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Title: Bertha and Her Baptism
Author: Adams, Nehemiah, 1806-1878
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bertha and Her Baptism" ***

American Fiction Project.)


By the Author of



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of

New England Type and Stereotype Foundry,


This book, and that which is also named in the title-page, were written
at the same time, and as one book; but they were afterward separated, as
more properly constituting two volumes, the part which was the original
of the present volume now being greatly enlarged. Thus the two books
grew in the author's mind together, from one and the same root,--the
death of a little child.





OF INFANT BAPTISM,                                               16


BAPTISM,                                                         76


IS THERE ONLY ONE MODE OF BAPTISM?                              121


BAPTISMS.--NEGLECT OF BAPTISM,                                  130




AND KINDNESS,                                                   184


THE ROAD-SIDE BAPTISM,                                          198


CHURCH?                                                         216






Chapter First.


     'Tis aye a solemn thing to me
   To look upon a babe that sleeps,
   Wearing in its spirit-deeps
     The unrevealed mystery
     Of its Adam's taint and woe.--MISS BARRETT.

   Heaven lies about us in our infancy.--WORDSWORTH.

It is generally believed that, of those who have gone to heaven from
this world, by far the larger part have been infants and young children.
Born here, they were by one man's disobedience made sinners; born of the
Spirit, at their early translation to heaven, they hold an important
place in the plan of salvation by Christ. Very beautiful, as well as
sublime, is the thought of so large a contribution, to the heavenly
world, of human beings in the dawn of their existence, enhancing, as we
may suppose, the happiness of heaven by such large admixture of exotic,
youthful nature, and illustrating, by their redemption from a helpless
state of sin and misery, the unsearchable riches of wisdom and grace.

Has God done anything, in this world, to mark his regard for that class
of the human race constituting, thus far, the greater part of the
redeemed? We naturally look for something reminding the world of his
interest in these subsidiaries of his kingdom. Has he confined his
notice to those that are full-grown, and who have, thus far, the larger
part of them, withheld from him the fruit of his vineyard? God has a
church on earth, with ordinances, symbols, covenant signs: among them is
there not some sign, symbol, or ordinance, recognizing those who, more
than any other of the race, have, till now, been swelling the numbers of
that church in heaven?

Like those elements of astronomical calculation which require and lead
men to expect undiscovered planets in a certain quarter of the
firmament, analogy, and the known intercourse of God with mankind, and
our moral sense, incline us to look for some symbolic recognition of
this earthly constituency of heaven by him who ordained and is
redeeming to himself a church from among men. Words of interest and love
toward them on the part of God, we all know, are not wanting in the
Bible. Acts of loving-kindness, also, proving the sincerity of those
words, and reaching even to a thousand generations of them that love
God, are everywhere seen in sacred history.

But is there no great, conspicuous symbol of these things,--no type, no
rite? Symbols appear to be inseparable attendants of God's manifested
favor to men. He cannot enter into covenant with an individual, much
less a people, but there is at least a stone set up, or a
threshing-floor is bought for him, an altar is built, or they pour out a
horn of oil. He invites Ahaz to ask of him a sign of his promise: "Ask
it," he says, "either in the depths, or in the height above;" and, when
that man refuses, God gives him a sign. Emblems, seals and types, in the
early dispensation, burst forth like images in the waters of everything
along the banks, and even of things far off. Everything has its
memorial, its rite; are the children, is the parental relation,

Here let us consider that God began with the first parents and the
first children of the human race to set forth that great law of his
administration, the connection of children with parents for good or
evil. Every descendant of Adam is an example under that law. Thus it was
for nineteen generations,--from Adam to Abraham.

When, therefore, God reëstablished his church at the call of Abraham, it
was no new thing to connect parents and their children in covenant
promises and blessings. It had its origin in the very nature of man.
Abraham, and the covenant made with him for all believers and their
children, are, indeed, a striking illustration of a principle recognized
and applied by the Most High; but the principle itself is older than
Abraham,--it is coëval with the moral constitution of man. In making a
covenant with Noah, God included his children; so with David, making
mention of his house, "for a great while to come."

As soon, therefore, as religion was established in the earth, by
securing its perpetuity through the conservative influences of one
selected line of descent, the child was taken, as being the object of
the covenant, and the means of its perpetuation, and received its seal.
God designed to perpetuate religion in the earth, thenceforward,
chiefly by means of the parental relation; for the parent represents God
to the child more than any other fellow-creature, or thing, can
do,--more than any instituted influence, whether of prophet, priest,
church, or ritual. Setting up his church for all future time, with
Abraham for its founder, God included children with parents who
covenanted with him, as the objects of special regard and promise, and
he appointed a rite to mark and seal that covenant. Thus it was from
Abraham to Christ, during three times fourteen generations.

But the day of types and symbols was succeeded by another era, in which
the church of God comes forth with the glory of God risen upon her, and
all the nebulous matter of types and ceremonies is gathered together
into two permanent sacraments; for human nature was not beyond the need
and help of outward signs. Now, in the earlier of the two ages of the
church, the child was recognized by a rite of the church; the child,
with that rite inscribed on him, was the sign-bearer of the church's
perpetuity. Yet, in the age following, the child was as dear to the
parent as ever; the Christian parent was as much concerned to have
religion flow through his seed, as were his predecessors; the salvation
of the child was regarded with the same solicitude, and the principle of
perpetuating religion by the family constitution was still the same.

But did God withdraw from the children of his servants, from the most
hopeful of all the sources of his church's increase on earth and in
heaven, all token of his regard in any sacramental act? Is parental
affection, under the reign of Immanuel, debarred the enjoyment of one of
its most valuable privileges, the sealing of the child to be the Lord's
by the use of a divinely-appointed symbol? Had no ordinances and symbols
been allowed after the institution of Christianity, this question would
not arise; the inference would have been that human nature, under the
Gospel, will no more need the aid of rites in religion. But there are
Christian rites, expressly and solemnly instituted. Is not that most
important relation of a believer's child to God perpetuated; and is it
not still to be sealed by the use of one of the Christian ordinances?

In considering this question, and the many interesting topics connected
with it, the writer will be allowed to take his own way, following an
historical order in the occurrences which may be supposed to have made
the subject interesting and clear to the minds of two parents.

Chapter Second.



   If temporal estates may be conveyed
     By cov'nants, on condition,
   To men, and to their heirs; be not affraid,
     My soule, to rest upon
   The covenant of grace by mercy made.
             GEORGE HERBERT,--"_The Font._"

   --No finite mind can fully comprehend the mysteries into which his
     baptism is the initiation.--COLERIDGE,--"_Aids_," &c.

   Christian faith is the perfection of human reason.--IBID.

MY DEAR DAUGHTER BERTHA:--I am glad that you think of taking your little
namesake to the house of God for baptism. You wish to know my views
about it in full. My new colleague having relieved me of many cares and
labors, I shall hope to write more frequently; but not often so long a
letter as I fear this will be; for I wish to tell you of some
conversations which I have had on the subject in question. This will
show you the common difficulties, in which, perhaps, you share, and my
way of removing them; and also set before you the privileges and
blessings connected with the baptism of your child.

A man and his wife--sensible, plain people--came to our house one
evening last July, when the "vines with the tender grape gave a goodly
smell," through that trellis which you and Percival have such pleasant
reason to remember. We were all sitting there in the moonlight, when
this Mr. Benson and his wife came up the door-way, and were welcomed
into our little group. After a few words of mutual inquiry and answer,
he said:

"Wife and I, sir, thought that we would make bold to come and trouble
you a little to tell us about baptizing our boy. He is getting to be
four months old, and we are not willing to put it off much longer.
Still, we would like to know the grounds of it a little better. People,
you know, do not think much about it till it comes to be a case in hand.

"But I do not know," said he, looking round on your mother and the
children, "but that we do wrong to take this time for it. It will be
rather a dry subject for these young friends to hear."

_Pastor._ Not at all. They owe too much to what was done for them when
they were little children, to dislike it. Besides, there is nothing dry
about it, as I view the subject. It is one of the most beautiful things
in religion.

_Mrs. Benson._ It is next to the Lord's Supper, I always thought, if
people take the right view of it.

_Pastor._ It makes you love God the Father in some such way as the
Lord's Supper makes you love the Saviour. I think, sometimes, that the
baptism of children is our heavenly Father's Sacrament.

_Mr. B._ I like that; but there is so much to study and learn about the
"Abrahamic covenant," that I feel a little discouraged. I have had books
lent me on the Abrahamic covenant, and I began to read them; but they
looked hard; so I told my wife that perhaps you would make the thing
more clear, and bring it home to our feelings, and that we would come
and get your ideas about it.

_Pastor._ How glad I am that you came! But tell me what you take the
Abrahamic covenant to mean.

_Mr. B._ I suppose it means that God told Abraham to circumcise his
children, and infant baptism comes in the place of it, and we must do it
if we are Abraham's spiritual children. But I wish to see the use of it.
I am willing to do it, but I should like to feel it more; and I want to
know how baptism comes in the place of circumcision, and a great many
other things.

_Pastor._ I think that you may possibly have what may be called some
Jewish notions about the Abrahamic covenant, though I trust you are
right in the main. That phrase sounds foreign and mysterious, and I
never use it except in talking with people who I know have the thing
itself already in their hearts.

I called Helen to me, and told her to say the hymn which she had
repeated to me the last Sabbath evening.

She cleared her voice, leaned against me, and twisted her fingers in my
hair behind, and, with her eyes fixed there, she said this hymn:

      "Begin, my tongue, some heavenly theme,
        And speak some boundless thing;
      The mightier works or mightier name
        Of our eternal King.

      "Tell of his wondrous faithfulness,
        And sound his power abroad;
      Sing the sweet promise of his grace,
        And the performing God.

      "Proclaim salvation from the Lord
        For wretched, dying men;
      His hand has writ the sacred word
        With an immortal pen.

      "Engraved as in eternal brass
        The mighty promise shines;
      Nor can the powers of darkness rase
        Those everlasting lines.

      "He who can dash whole worlds to death,
        And make them when he please,
      He speaks, and that Almighty breath
        Fulfils his promises.

      "His very word of grace is strong
        As that which built the skies:
      The voice that rolls the stars along
        Speaks all the promises.

      "He said, 'Let the wide heavens be spread;'
        And heaven was stretched abroad.
      'Abra'am, I'll be thy God,' he said;
        And he was Abra'am's God.

      "O, might I hear thy heavenly tongue
        But whisper, 'Thou art mine!'
      Those gentle words should raise my song
        To notes almost divine.

      "How would my leaping heart rejoice,
        And think my heaven secure!
      I trust the all-creating voice,
        And faith desires no more."

_Pastor._ What a happy man Abraham must have been when the Almighty made
this engagement and promise: "I will be a God to thee!" That was the
"Abrahamic covenant," in part.

"Does covenant mean that?" said Mrs. B.

"What?" I inquired.

"Why, sir, what you have just said,--engagement, promise?"

"Nothing more," said I. "But what a happy man, I say, Abraham must have
been! 'A God to thee!' To have the Almighty say to one, 'I will be a God
to thee!' You know that this is everything."

"That is a fact," said Mr. B., wiping his eyes; "for, when I went to my
store, the morning after I became a Christian, I went along the street,
saying to myself, 'Now I have a God. God is God to me. Thou art my

"Yes," said his wife; "Deacon B., the post-master, heard you, as you
went by his side-window, and he made an excuse to bring me up a paper,
that forenoon, and asked whether you had not met with a change in your
feelings on the subject of religion."

"Did he?" said Mr. B. "Well, I did not mean to be heard, and yet I was
willing that everybody should know how happy I was in having one whom I
could call my God. How I had lived so long without God for my God,
amazed me."

_Pastor._ You make me think of a man who, one night, on reaching his
house, after having attended a lecture in a school-room, was filled with
such surprising views and feelings, with respect to the greatness and
goodness of God, that he saddled his horse, rode three miles, waked up
the minister, and, as he came to the door, took hold of each arm, and
said, "O, my dear sir, what a God we've got!" He would not go in, but
soon hastened back. It was the substance of all that he wished to say;
he desired to pour out his soul to some one who would understand him. He
was like a thirsty land when at last the great rain is descending.

_Mr. B._ I suppose many people would have thought him crazy.

"I suspect the minister did, at first," said Mrs. B.

"And yet I suppose," said I, "he was never more rational. Just think
what it is for a poor sinner all at once to feel that the eternal God is
his; that He will be a God to him! We hear of some people dying at the
receipt of good news; and I have seen some so happy at this experience,
of having a God to love and to love them, that, if the thing itself did
not, as it always does, bring peace and inward strength with it, nature
could not have sustained it."

"Joy unspeakable," said Mr. B. "And full of glory," said his wife,
waiting a moment for him to finish the quotation.

"Now, my dear friends," said I, "that man on horseback, at his
minister's door at midnight, had, at that moment, the first part of what
is meant by the 'Abrahamic covenant.' How little way do these words go
toward expressing the thing itself, and a man's feelings under it! There
was a time when God made Abraham far more happy even than he did you on
your way to the post-office that morning."

Helen came along, just then, with a fruit-basket of apples, and I said
to her, as she was going round with them, "Say again that verse in your
hymn, which has these words in it, 'Thou art mine.'"

So, while Mr. B. was paring his apple, Helen stood before him, and said:

   "O, might I hear thy heavenly tongue
     But whisper, 'Thou art mine!'
   Those gentle words should raise my song
     To notes almost divine."

Mr. B. put his apple and knife down, and took his red bandanna
handkerchief from under his plate, and, wiping his eyes, said:

"Hymns always make me feel a good deal, especially Watts's. I've read
that hymn in meeting before the exercises began."

_Pastor._ You know, by happy experience, what it is when that heavenly
tongue whispers, "Thou art mine."

_Mr. B._ I do, sir, if I know anything.

_Pastor._ Now, my dear friends, there is something awaiting you, which
you seem not to have experienced, but which is as good as that.

"We would like to hear about it," they both replied.

"How should you like, Mrs. B.," said I, "to have your little boy become
a sailor?"

"O dear!" said she, "I should have no peace from this time, if I thought
he was to be a sailor."

"But that," said I, "may be God's chosen occupation for him,--the way in
which he will employ him to bring him to himself, and then use him to be
a preacher to seamen, for example, and so to scatter the truth in many
parts of the earth. We are not our own, Mrs. B., and this dear boy was
not given you, as we say, to keep. 'For thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.'"

"I want him brought up at college," said Mrs. B., looking at your
mother, who, she probably thought, would understand her motherly
anticipations about her boy so far ahead.

"Well," said I, "let us send him to college. I suspect that you would
feel a good deal the morning he left you, would you not?"

"O," said she, "I should so want him to be good first! If he should not
be a good man, I would not have him get learning to do harm with it, and
make himself more miserable hereafter."

The little gate, with its chain and ball, swung to at this moment, and
a woman and girl came up the walk. It was Mrs. Ford, who used to be your
dress-maker, and her daughter Janette, now about thirteen. It was a
farewell call from Janette, who was going to the neighborhood of
Philadelphia, into a coach-lace manufactory.

"So Janette is going to leave us, to-morrow, Mrs. Ford?" said your

"Yes, madam, and I feel sorely about it; so young, and such a way off,
and all strangers except the foreman, who spoke to me about her coming!
O, sir," said she, changing her undertone, and turning to me, "what
should we do without that promise, 'I will be a God to thee and to thy
seed after thee'?"

I looked at Mr. and Mrs. B., and we all smiled, while I said:

"Now we have got the second part of the 'Abrahamic covenant.' So now we
have the whole of it. Mrs. Ford, when you came in, we were talking about
baptizing children, and about the 'Abrahamic covenant.' What do you
understand by that covenant?"

"I understand by it, sir," said she, slowly gathering her words into
proper order; "why, I think I understand by it, that God promises to be
a God to a believer's child, as he was in such a wonderful way to
Abraham's people."

_Pastor._ Well, that is the substance of one part of it, at least. Did
you know, Mrs. Ford, that when you came in we were just entering Mrs.
Benson's son at college?

_Mrs. Ford._ Not this Mrs. Benson, of course. Whom do you mean, sir?

_Pastor._ This Mrs. Benson;--her little son.

_Mrs. Ford._ O, I understand! Well, you will send him to P., I suppose,
it is so near.

"We had not fixed on the college," said Mrs. Benson, with a laugh.

"Janette," said I, "how do you like the thought of going off so far from
us all?"

Janette pulled the ends of her plain cotton gloves, and her heart was
full, so that she could not speak for a moment. I was sorry that I had
asked the question, and therefore added:

"You will not go where God cannot take care of you and bless you the
same as at home, will you, dear?"

She lifted her white apron to her eyes, while Mrs. Ford said for her:

"I tell Janette that I gave her up to God in baptism; and when her
father lay sick, he said, 'That child was given to God in his house; I
leave her destitute, and with nothing but her hands, but I leave her to
a covenant-keeping God.'"

"Now," said I, "here is a dear daughter going to a strange place to
learn a trade. She knows not a soul in the place but the foreman who has
hired her. A boy is going to college, another to sea, another to a
distant city. Here is a daughter, who receives particular attentions
from certain young friends, and the probability is that she will be
asked in marriage; and here is a son, who with his parents are in doubt
with regard to his future occupation and course of life. God only knows
the feelings of parents at such times. What prayers are made in
secret,--what vows! One wrong step may embitter life. A right step may
lead to prosperity and great happiness. I sometimes wish that we could
gather our children together, in some of these emergencies and critical
periods of their lives, and offer up prayers and vows, as parents and
friends, in their behalf. There would not be many meetings more
interesting than these, Mr. Benson. How the parents of such children
would love everybody that came at such times to pray for their children;
and what prayers would go up to God!"

"Can we not have some such meetings?" said Mr. Benson. "Every parent
would like it, I am sure."

_Pastor._ Well, we do have some such meetings occasionally, I remember.

"Our minister loves to use parables," said Mrs. Benson, looking at your
mother, "so as to make us understand the meaning better, and remember

"I must ask you to explain," said Mr. Benson.

_Pastor._ As often as we bring a child to the house of God for baptism,
Mr. Benson, we have such a meeting, if Christians will but understand it
so. We come with the parents, and say, "Lord God, here is this dear
child, with a momentous history pending upon thy favor and blessing. In
all future time, in the critical moments and eventful steps of its life,
or in its early death, or in its orphanage, be thou a God to this
child." If God should to-night, Mrs. Ford, say to you, "I will be
Janette's God," would you not send her away with a light heart?

"He should have her for life, dear child!" said she; "and I do feel that
he is a God to her."

"He is," said I, "if you have really made a covenant with him about your

"I have, sir," said Mrs. Ford.

_Pastor._ Did the covenant have any seal? Some good people, you know,
think it enough to covenant with God about their children, without using
any special act to mark and seal it. Now it is only in consecrating
children to God that they omit the seal from the covenant. We practise
adult baptism, joining the church, confirmation, and we partake of the
Lord's Supper, feeling the propriety and the use of acts and testimonies
in the form of an ordinance. What seal had your covenanting with God
about your child?

_Mrs. Ford._ I see it now clearer than ever. As we stood with this child
in our arms, we both said, afterwards, we made a public profession of
religion anew; and, when the minister said those sacred names over her,
I felt more than before that I was having transactions with God about
the child. But people used to say to me, "Why not wait and let Janette
be baptized when she is old enough to understand it?" How little they
knew about it! Just as though, I told them, if I had money to put into
the savings-bank for Janette, I would wait and let her put it in herself
(it is so pleasant to put it in when you know all about it!), instead of
laying it up for her in the funds, and let it count up while she is

_Pastor._ Those friends who advised you so, think, perhaps, too much of
the ceremony itself, and not so much of what it signifies. Now the
pleasure of being baptized is nothing compared with having God enter
into a covenant in your behalf when you knew nothing about it.

_Mrs. Ford._ They said to me, also, "What right have you to do it,
instead of letting her have the choice and privilege of doing it herself
hereafter?" I told them that, if we acted on that principle, in the
treatment of our children, there would be a long list of useful things,
which we do for them, to be postponed.

_Pastor._ We can benefit another without his consent. The question is,
whether it is a benefit to a child for God and its natural guardians to
make a covenant together in its behalf.

_Mr. Benson._ It surely is so, if God truly is a party to such a
covenant. But where is the proof that he is? That is my trouble. They
tell me that this covenanting with God for a child, and sealing it with
an ordinance, ceased with Abraham, who was a Jew; that it was a Jewish
custom, which died out.

_Pastor._ Abraham a mere Jew! God's covenant with a believer and his
children a Jewish covenant! Never was there a greater mistake. Paul
tells us expressly it was not so. Get me a Bible, Helen, and bring me a
lamp. I read these words: "And the promise that he should be heir of the
world was not to Abraham and his seed through the law, but through the
righteousness of faith." His relation to the world was independent of
dispensations; it grew out of that faith which he had in common with all
believers to the end of time. "And he received the sign of circumcision,
a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being
uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all them that believe,
though they be not circumcised." Christ also says: "Moses, therefore,
gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the
fathers.)" Abraham was not a Jew when God covenanted with him, any more
than you, madam, were Mrs. Ford, when, at the age of sixteen, as you
have told me, you entered into covenant with God. That covenant had
chief respect to your immortal soul, and yet it reached in its
influences to all the conditions of that soul while here in the flesh.
So God covenanted with Abraham as a believer, not as a mere national
ancestor; yet temporal and spiritual blessings came in rich measures
upon his immediate descendants. But we read, "So then as many as be of
faith are blessed with faithful," that is, believing, "Abraham." "And if
ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise." Can anything be plainer than this?

_Mrs. Ford._ My father was a minister, you know, sir, and he used to
preach a great deal on this subject.

_Pastor._ Let us hear your understanding of these passages, Mrs. Ford.

"I am afraid," said she, "I cannot tell you just what he used to say.
But my idea of it is this: Though Abraham was the founder of the Hebrew
people, he was no more a Jew than a Gentile in his covenant with God,
for it was as believer the great believer, that God made a covenant
with him. So that he was not circumcised as a Jew, but, as the Bible
says, to have a seal of the righteousness which he had by faith. God
made a covenant with him as a believer, to be his God and the God of his
children, as the children of a believer, not a Jew; so that all
believers are blessed with believing Abraham, by having the same
covenant extended to them. Then, I take it, God gave him a sign and seal
as a pledge, and to remind him of it, and to keep his children in
remembrance." She paused, and I said:

"Please to go on." You remember, Bertha, how you used to make this Mrs.
Ford discuss doctrinal matters when she was sewing for you.

_Mrs. Ford._ I remember that father said that God took the rainbow as a
sign and seal of his promise, to Noah and all future generations, that
there should never be another universal deluge. So he appointed a
children's ordinance to mark his covenant with believers to the end of
time. Only there was this difference; the way of signing and sealing the
covenant not being coupled with the laws of nature, but conforming to
the kind of symbols successively in use, it was changed, at the time
that the Sabbath was changed, and the whole of the old dispensation; but
father used to say, Is the commonwealth and citizenship broken up
because the legislature adopts a new state seal? Does that destroy all
the old public documents?

_Pastor._ Good! So the United States' mint is from time to time changing
its dies; lately it has abolished copper, and substituted equivalent
coins of different composition. But money does not perish. A cent is a
cent still, red or white. So, whether the seal be blood or water, the
great ordinance which it seals remains the same.

"And now I will tell you," said I, "how it seems to me God's covenanting
with parents for their children came to pass. He wished to give Abraham
a token and seal of his love to him. So he took his child, the thing
which he loved best, and would see oftenest, and thought of most, and
made the child, as it were, the tablet on which to write his covenant
with the father. That was one reason. 'Because he loved the fathers,
therefore he chose their seed.' But this is the least of the reasons in
the case.

"Here is one of vastly greater importance. God wished to perpetuate
religion in the earth. He knew that the family constitution would be
the principal means of doing this, parents teaching and commanding their
children, and so transmitting religion. Because he knew that Abraham
would do this, he gave it as a reason for his love and confidence in
him, in not concealing from him his purpose to destroy Sodom. 'Shall I
hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know him that he will
command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep
the ways of the Lord.' So, in order to remind Abraham of what was
expected by the Most High in making his children the presumptive heirs
of grace, and to remind the children of it when they came to years of
understanding, God gave him and them this mark and seal."

"Well, then," said Mr. Benson, "it seems to me Abraham was better off
than we, if he had God in covenant with him for his children, and we
have not. I sometimes wish that I could have God covenant with me about
my boy, as Abraham had about Isaac."

"I should like," said Mrs. B., "to hear him say, 'I will be a God to
him,' and then tell us to do something of his own appointment that
should be like our signing and sealing a covenant together, as the
Lord's Supper enables us to do with Christ."

"If we have no such blessed privilege," said I, "then, as Abraham
desired to see our day, I should, in this respect, rejoice to see
Abraham's day. I cannot forego the privilege of having God in covenant
with me for my children as he was with Abraham for his; and I crave some
divine seal affixed to it.

"You said, Mrs. Benson, that you would like to have God promise to be
the God of your child, and then command you to do something which would
be like God and you signing and sealing it together. But do you think,
Mrs. B., that this is necessary? Why is it not enough for God to make a
promise, and you make one, and let it be without any sign or seal?"

"People don't do things in that way," said Mr. Benson, with a decided
motion, two or three times, with his head. "They call a wedding a
ceremony, it is true, and some say, 'So long as people are engaged to be
man and wife, the ceremony makes little difference.' But it does make
all the difference in the world,--this mere ceremony, as they call it.
They never like to dispense with it themselves, at least; because, you
see, it makes all the difference between unlawful, sinful union, and
marriage. It makes married life; which could not exist, without the
ceremony, among decent people. It gives a title and ground to a thing
which could not be without it. So, I begin to see and feel, it is with
regard to what some call the ceremony of baptism. But excuse me, wife, I
took the answer out of your mouth."

"Well," said Mrs. Benson to me, "I must wait upon you, sir, to answer
the question further."

"Mr. Benson has the right view of the subject," I replied. "We make too
little of signs and seals, from a morbid fear and jealousy of those
which are invented by man and added to religion. But God's own seals are
safe and good. We cannot make too much of them.

"God never did anything with men, from the beginning, without signs and
seals. The tree of life was one, and so was the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil. Adam and Eve knew better, at first, than to say, 'So long
as we love and obey God, of what use are these symbols?' By not
regarding symbols afterward, they brought death into our world and all
our woe. Even before that, God had appointed a symbol of his authority,
and a seal of a covenant between him and man forever, in the appointment
of the Sabbath. The mark on Cain's forehead, the rainbow, the lamp
passing between the severed parts of Abraham's sacrifice, Jacob's
ladder, the burning bush, the passover, and things too numerous to
mention, show how God loves signs and seals.

"There are many good people, at the present day, who say to me, I am
willing to consecrate my child to God in prayer, and bring him up for
God; but I do not see the necessity of an ordinance. Why bring the child
to baptism? I can do all which is required and signified, without the

"What do you say to them?" said Mrs. Ford.

_Pastor._ I tell them they are on dangerous ground. Will they be wiser
than God? He knows our natures, and what to prescribe to us in our
intercourse with him. I would as soon meddle with a law of nature, as
with God's ordinances. I might as well neglect a law of nature, and
think to be safe and well, as to neglect one of God's ordinances, and
expect his blessing.

People, moreover, may as well object to family prayer, and say that
they try to live in a spirit of prayer all day. Why do they have special
seasons for retirement, if they walk with God? Why do they hardly feel
that they have prayed if company, or a bedfellow, on a journey, keeps
them from using oral prayer? It is a bitter grief, also, when no funeral
solemnities lead the way to the grave with a beloved object; yet, where
in the word of God are they commanded? As Mr. Benson said, "Who is
willing to dispense with the wedding ceremony, except in cases where
sadness and trouble seek concealment?"

People cannot give full evidence that they are Christians unless they
make a public profession of religion. They cannot properly remember
Jesus without partaking of his body and blood. Depend upon it, my dear
friends, God sets great value on ordinances, and our observance of them.
God has given us two sacraments, and he who dispenses with them because
he undervalues them, or undertakes to say that they are not necessary to
him, or to any in this age of the world, is in peril. The only danger
from forms and ordinances is when they are of human origin. We must take
care and not let our revulsion from Romanism carry us to the extreme of
neglecting or setting aside the ordinances of God's appointment. "There
are three that bear record on earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the
blood; and these three agree in one." A man may, with equal propriety,
dispense with the blood, and its symbol the wine, or with the Spirit, as
with the water, if God has appointed it with the other two as a witness
between him and us. You notice that the Spirit is named with the two
inanimate things, the blood and the water. Take care, I say to my
friends, lest, in setting aside the water, you shut out that divine
Spirit, who, knowing how to deal with our nature, chooses the blood and
the water to be used by us in connection with our most spiritual
religious exercises of the mind and heart. We have no more right to
interfere with God's ordinances than with the number of the persons in
the Trinity.

"All this affects me so," said Mr. Benson, "that I shall not fail to
offer my child to be baptized, if I am allowed to do so. Now, there is
my difficulty. Why do you think, and how do you show, that baptism must
now be used as God's sign and seal of his covenant with believers for
their children? When circumcision was dropped, some insist that the
covenant was dropped with it, and, therefore, that there is no warrant
in Scripture for baptizing children."

"Why," said Mrs. Ford, "if the coming in of Moses' dispensation did not
abolish the arrangement with Abraham, why should its going out? I am
inclined to think that Abraham and his seed are, to Moses and his
dispensation, something like that vine to the trellis, running over it
to the top of the piazza, bending itself in, you see, to accommodate
itself, but having a root and a top, the one below, the other above, the
short frame, which only guides it up to the roof. In the eleventh of
Romans does not Paul say that Jews and Gentiles have one and the same
'root'? I always supposed that root to be Abraham and his covenant."

I did not quote Latin to my friends, but I thought of the old law-maxim,
_Manente ratione, manet ipsa lex_--which, if your scholarship is not at
hand to translate it, Percival will tell you, means, "The reason for a
law remaining, the law itself also remains." It is used in such cases as
the following: When one would insist that a law was intended to be
repealed by the operation of another law, not directly or expressly
aimed to repeal it, it is a good reply. If the original reason for
enacting the old law can be shown still to exist, it is strong
presumptive evidence that there was no intention to repeal that law. I
explained this, in as simple language as I could, to my excellent
friends, and told them, "If God's covenant, which circumcision sealed,
were Mosaic, and therefore national, Jewish, we should presume that it
ceased with the Jewish nation; or, if it continued, that it was
restricted to their posterity. But why should God bestow his inestimable
blessing on the father of the faithful, and take it away from the
faithful themselves? We love our children, as Abraham did his. It is as
important to us that God should be the God of our seed, as it was to
Abraham. My heart yearns after that covenanting God in behalf of my

"I will give up thinking of Abraham as a Jew," said Mrs. Benson.

"What was he, then?" said I, "or what will he be to you, from this

"He was the head of believers," said she, "just as Adam was the head of
men. As Mrs. Ford said, he was the great believer; and I am persuaded
that all who are of faith have his privileges, and more too; but
certainly all that he had."

"But, my dear," said your mother, "you have forgotten the question.
Supposing that the covenant still remains, why do you take baptism for
the seal of it? The old way of sealing it is given up. What authority do
you show for using baptism in its place?"

"I take the initiating ordinance of religion for the time being," said
I, "whatever it may be. Is not baptism the initiating ordinance, as
circumcision was? When they built our long bridge, and the ferry-boats
ceased running, did the town put up a great sign over the gate, saying,
'It is enacted that this river shall continue to be crossed'? Did they
add, 'This bridge is hereby appointed as the way of getting over the
river'? Or, did not people take it for granted, when the bridge was
opened and the ferry-boats were withdrawn, that the bridge was designed
to be the way by which they were to pass over the river?

"Now, suppose so impossible a thing as this, that hereafter baptism
should, by divine revelation, be changed for anointing with oil, and
nothing were said about children. I would anoint the child with oil,
instead of baptizing it with water. We are to use the initiatory rite of
the church for the time being."

"But," said Mrs. Benson, "is there any resemblance between circumcision
and baptism?"

"There need be none," said I. "Resemblance does not give it efficacy,
but God's appointment of it. If marking the flesh in some way should be
appointed to succeed baptism, we need not look for a likeness between it
and baptism before we complied with the divine requirement."

"I do wish," said Mrs. Benson, "that the authority to baptize children
were more expressly stated in the Bible, to satisfy all who were not
brought up as we have been."

_Pastor._ The overwhelming majority of those who now receive the Bible
as the word of God find it there.

_Mrs. Benson._ But why did not Paul receive a revelation about it, as he
did about the Lord's Supper?

_Pastor._ Did that make the thing any more authoritative with us than
the original appointment? We will not prescribe to God how to teach us.
We will not make up our minds how he ought to have made a revelation,
but we will take that revelation and try to understand it.

"I agree to that," said they all.

_Pastor._ It appears to me that God prefers, on certain subjects, that
the world shall reason by inferences. It is a wise way of educating
children and youth, to leave some things to be learned in this way, and
not by setting everything before them, like too many examples in the
arithmetic wrought out.

We have changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day in the
week. It gives me a sublime idea of our Sabbath, that by some great,
silent alteration, it has come to pass that all the world keep the day
of Christ's resurrection, instead of the day which commemorated the work
of creation. I feel toward it as I do with regard to the noiseless
changes of the seasons, and the conformity of our habits and practices
to them. I left New York late in winter for the Azores, and, before I
expected it, the warm southern airs came one morning into my cabin
window. So the Christian Sabbath, with its beautiful associations,
flowed in upon the world without a formal proclamation. I feel thankful
to God for so regarding our intelligent natures, as to leave some
things, relating to ordinances, modes, and forms, to be inferred,
bringing great changes over the moral and spiritual world, and leaving
us to adjust ourselves and the administration of the appointed
ordinances to them. We can add nothing, we take nothing away from an
express, divine command; but, as the first disciples were left to infer
that a Sabbath was as necessary after Christ brought in the new creation
as before, and adjusted it to the celebration of the Saviour's rising
from the dead, so we infer that God's covenant with believing parents
for their children is as desirable now as ever; that all the original
reasons for it now exist; and, therefore, we take the initiating
ordinance of religion now, as the church in former ages did, and apply
it to the children. All church-members did it before Christ; all
church-members may do it now. God saw fit to make every adult member, at
least, of the Jewish family, a church-member; if he has changed and
restricted the terms of church-membership now, that is a sufficient
reason for not making the sealing of children as universal now as it was
before. That is to say, in both cases, it is a church-member's

Without detailing the conversation at this point, let me say, I take it
for granted that Abraham, as my great spiritual ancestor, my
representative before God, my commissioner to receive for me and
transmit my privileges and blessings, continues in that relation unless
expressly set aside. Christ did not set him aside. How wonderfully he is
brought forward under the new dispensation, when it is said to us, "And
if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to
the promise." But, pray, why should Abraham be intruded in connection
with Christ, if he with his covenant is like a lapsed legacy, or a
superseded act of Congress? Why comes he here, in connection with the
Saviour, and tells me that if I am Christ's, then am I his, Abraham's,
seed? Hear this: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law,
being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on
the Gentiles through Jesus Christ." Wonderful elevation of Abraham and
his blessing, as the great type of all that Christ was to procure for
us! If Abraham and his covenant ceased with the Jewish people, how does
the blessing of Abraham fully come upon us, the Gentiles? But give me
his covenant for my children; then I see that Christ is executor of the
testament made with Abraham for his children; and I am one of the heirs;
as indeed I am, even if I have no children, but if I have, all of
Abraham's privileges and his covenanting God are mine and theirs.

So that, I said to my friends, I go to the Bible not to say, "Must I
baptize my children?" but, "Am I forbidden to baptize them?"

All my predecessors in the church of God, before Christ, had the
privilege of bringing their children into the bonds of the covenant with
themselves. If they felt as we do about it (and strict usage, and the
rich experience which they had had of its benefits, must have made it
inestimably precious to them), it is incredible that a sudden and total
discontinuance of it, at the beginning of Christianity, should not have
occasioned great clamor. The formalists, at least, would have
remonstrated at the seeming violation, by this new order of things, of
natural affection. For, as Doddridge well observes, "What would have
been done with the infants, or male children, of Christians?"--that is,
of converted Jews, as well as others. They could not circumcise them;
but their teachers, being spiritually-minded men, knew that circumcision
was a seal of faith, not merely of nationality, and must not the
converts have required some sign and symbol still for their children?
Now they had long been used to the baptism of proselytes and their
children; so that baptizing their own children, as a substitute for
circumcising them, could not have been a violent change with those whom
Peter's vision of the sheet had taught that the Gentiles should be
fellow-heirs. And when he, in one of his first sermons, said to the
whole house of Israel, "Ye are the children of the covenant," and "The
promise is unto you and to your children," we can account for their
utter silence as to any revocation by Christianity of the right and
privilege of applying the initiatory ordinance of religion, for the time
being, to a believer's child.

"But," said Mr. Benson, "the Saviour said, 'He that believeth, and is
baptized, shall be saved.' The apostles said, 'Repent and be baptized,
every one of you.' Show us, now, why this does not prove that repentance
and faith were not thus made essential to baptism. According to these
passages, none could be baptized who had not repented and believed.
This would exclude infants. 'Believe, and be baptized;' how do you
dispose of that, sir?"

"Very easily," said I.

Mrs. Benson exclaimed, "O, sir, if you can, all my difficulty is at an

"Well, then," said I, "in the first place, there is no such requirement
in the Bible. You see the expression very often, but it is not found in
Scripture. But tell me exactly what your difficulty is."

"Why," said she, "my husband has just stated it. People tell us the
Bible says, 'He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved.' So
they insist that no one should be baptized who is not old enough to

I told her that I could remove her difficulty in very few words.

"Suppose," said I, "that Abraham is preaching to full-grown men in
Canaan, and is trying to proselyte them from their idolatry to the
worship of God. He would say to them, 'Believe and be circumcised,'
would he not? for God ordained that certain proselytes should be

"Yes, sir," said two or three voices at once.

"Well, then," said I, "must it follow that children could not be
circumcised because Abraham said to men, 'Believe and be circumcised'?
How will that reasoning answer? Is it true? No. Little Isaac refuted it,
for he was circumcised even when his father was saying to his pagan
neighbors, 'Believe and be circumcised.'"

"True enough, all who believed, in Christ's day and the apostles',
needed to be baptized, because they were not children, but were grown
up, when Christian baptism began. Had an apostle, however, lived to see
the jailer's family, and that of Lydia, and of Stephanas, grown up, and
any in those families had remained unconverted, and then he had said to
them, 'Believe and be baptized,' there would be some force in saying
that believing and baptism must always go together."

"One other thing always troubled me," said Mr. Benson, "and that is,
that there was no seal of the covenant for any but male children. Now,
if the initiatory rite of Christianity be used for the same purpose as
that given to Abraham, why not confine it, as formerly, to males?"

"How interesting it is," said I, "and it is full of instruction, to see
God paying regard to the world's knowledge and progress, in all his
measures, and doing nothing prematurely. There is a very striking
illustration of this in the account of the fall.

"God knew the history of the tempter during his agency in Paradise; for
angels had sinned and fallen from heaven. But the existence and agency
of fallen spirits had not been disclosed in the Bible,--the time for the
disclosure had not come,--and therefore it is said, with beautiful
simplicity, 'Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field
which the Lord God had made;' and the narrative has respect only to the
external appearance of the tempter, the serpent, because it would have
been premature as yet to bring in the story of fallen angels, or make
allusion to them.

"So, for reasons belonging to the early ages of the world, woman was
included in man, who acted for her.[1]

"But, however the arrangement began, God regarded that organic law of
society, and, in giving Abraham a seal of a covenant for his children,
he restricted it to the sons, they in all things standing and acting as
the representatives of the house, according to the existing custom. God
did not go far beyond the world's advancement, in his ordinances, but,
with condescension and in wisdom, suited the one to the other. But, as
things were then generally represented by types, so the male child was a
type and representative of the more full and complete form, which was
reserved till the fulness of time, and till the world should know the
fulness of Him that filleth all in all. For 'in Christ Jesus there is
neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female.'"

[Footnote 1: A curious reason for this, in the minds of some, appears to
be that, when man was created, woman was included in him. For, they say,
in the first chapter of Genesis, and in the account of the sixth day,
before woman was made, the plural word _them_ is used: "male and female
created he them." They say that the blessing was pronounced on the man
and woman in Adam. For they think it improbable that Moses would
anticipate his history so much as to bring in woman, and, withal, her
blessing, too, at the sixth day, when the narrative teaches that she was
made some time afterwards. Hence, they say, it was that woman was for
ages treated as included in man. There is something pleasing in this
fancy, but it seems like one of Origen's allegories, he being the father
of allegorical interpretation. It had its origin in an ancient
Rabbinical sentiment.]

So I discoursed with my visitors till between ten and eleven o'clock,
and when they rose to go, we all stood up together and joined in
prayer. We commended Janette to her covenant-keeping God, whose name
had been inscribed upon her. We remembered the little boy who had been
the occasion of all this pleasant conversation, and prayed that his
consecration might be accepted, and the sign and seal of it be owned and
blessed to him and his parents. As I walked down to the gate with my
friends, I said to them, that, when God was covenanting with Abraham, he
bade him look up into the heavens, and count the stars, and told him
that his seed, like them, should be innumerable. So I told them
frequently to look up to those old heavens, and remember that the
covenant-keeping God is there, the same who, in blessing Abraham,
included his seed; and that, because Abraham was so good a man, God
calls his posterity "the seed of Abraham my friend." And so we said

In reading over what I have written, there are a few things more which I
feel disposed to add, because I know that Percival will make good use of
them in talking with others in your congregation.

I feel, more than I can express, that the state of mind in parents which
will make them prize and use the ordinance of baptism for their children
is the great want of our day. Bringing children to church, and
baptizing them, unless the parents are themselves in covenant with God,
is as wrong as it was for those earthly-minded Corinthians, whom Paul
rebukes, to eat the Lord's Supper. They made a feast, or a meal, of the
supper; and some use baptism just to give a child a name,--to "christen"
it, as they say,--in mere compliance with a custom. But the abuse of a
thing is no valid argument against it. The last supper is the subject of
far more perversion; it gives occasion to a vast amount of superstition
and folly. The procession of the host, the elevation of the host, the
laying of the wafer on the tongue, the solemn injunctions against
spitting for a certain time after receiving it, are no valid arguments
against the Lord's Supper, and no Christian is led by them to disregard
the words of the Lord Jesus, "This do in remembrance of me." Much of the
practical benefit of the Supper comes through the feelings which it
awakens, the conduct which it promotes. So with infant baptism. The
child must be truly consecrated to God, beforehand, and afterwards; and
the ordinance must be used as a sign and seal on our part, as it is on
the part of God,--an act and testimony, a memorial, a vow. Hannah lent
her child to the Lord from the beginning, and then brought him to the
temple, with her offerings. We must take the child from baptism as
though God had placed it a second time in our hands, to be trained up
for him.

But, still, the ordinance is God's, and not man's. He has a work to do
in us by means of it, while it also helps our feelings, fixes them,
makes them vivid, and imposes solemn obligations upon us by its
signified vow. So it is with the Lord's Supper. In each case it is God's
memorial, and not ours; and its benefit does not consist so much in
showing forth the state of our hearts at the time of administration, as
in sealing to us the promises of God.

True, our feelings are awakened and strengthened, ordinarily, by the
ordinances; but that neither explains nor limits the meaning of them. We
are wrong if we suppose that the Lord's Supper has done no good unless
our feelings are vivid at the time of partaking. If we were sincere, our
act had the effect to engage and seal blessings from God of which we
were not aware, and may never be able to trace them back to that
transaction. So with regard to baptism.

Some call this sacerdotalism, and are afraid to allow that the
sacraments have any influence or use, except as a testimony from us to
God. Romanism has driven us to the opposite extreme in our ideas of
sacraments. We do not vibrate back again too far toward Romanism, if now
we conclude that God employs his sacraments, properly received by us, as
seals from him of love and promises. Many Christians derive less comfort
and help from the Lord's Supper than they may, because they regard it as
profitable only so far as they can offer it to God with vivid feelings
on their part; and, when their frames are not as they desire, they
conclude that the ordinance is unprofitable. But let us also consider
who appointed this ordinance. It is the appointment of Christ, not ours;
and at his table we are his guests, not he ours. The Saviour is well
represented as saying to us,

   "Thou canst not entertain a king!
     Unworthy thou of such a guest;
   But I my own provision bring,
     To make thy soul a heavenly feast."

There is a divine side to sacraments, as there is a divine side in
conversion. While we are active in regeneration, there is a work of God
wrought in us, distinct from our faith and repentance, yet inseparable
from it. So, while sacraments are vows on our part to God, they are,
primarily, gifts, pledges, seals, on his part to us. Therefore, when one
says, "I can bring up my children, I can be a Christian, without the use
of sacraments," it is a proper reply, "But can God do his part toward
your children, and toward you, without them?" For, not only is prayer
"the offering up of our desires to God for things agreeable to his
will," but there is the additional truth, which is well expressed in
those lines of a hymn:

   "Prayer is appointed to convey
   The blessings God designs to give."

So with sacraments; they convey gifts from God, not primarily gifts from
us to God.

He, then, who declines to have his children baptized, on the ground that
it is useless, may, in so doing, interrupt the communication of a
divinely-appointed medium between God and his child. For he need not be
told that the faith of parents brought blessings from the Saviour, when
on earth, to their children, nor be reminded that the benefits of
circumcision were bestowed on the ground of the parental relation to

One further illustration occurs to me of the power which resides in the
sacraments themselves, in distinction from their being a testimony from
us to God. Let me call to your remembrance notices which you sometimes
see, of young people going, in a frolic, before a clergyman or justice
of the peace, to be married, when they intended nothing but sport, and
found, afterward, that they had brought themselves into difficulty, and
were legally held to be married.

You see by this that covenants do not, by any means, derive all their
efficacy from the feelings of a contracting party. Covenants and their
seals are the most sacred of all human transactions, and cannot be
lightly regarded, or trifled with. God reveals himself often under the
name of the God that keepeth covenant. So that we may not set aside the
sacraments, nor undervalue them. This leads me to say, furthermore, that
children, who doubt whether their parents sincerely and truly offered
them to God in baptism, the parents being in an unregenerate state, as
it afterward appeared, when they came with their children to the
ordinance, may be greatly comforted and encouraged by taking this view
of the divine sacrament of baptism as having a force and application in
their behalf, by the goodness of God, irrespective of their parents'
character. God will not let his sacraments depend, for their efficacy,
on the character either of the administrator or of the parents. For, if
the character of an administrator affected the baptism, it might so
happen that one could never really be baptized, since every successive
hand which applied it might prove, in turn, to be that of an unworthy
person. If a child is baptized on the profession of parents who
afterward show that they were not sincere, the child shall not suffer
thereby, if he recognizes the transaction, and makes it his own act. In
the case of a converted husband or wife, while one companion remained a
heathen, the children were, nevertheless, counted "holy," because the
Gospel leaned to the side of mercy, and gave the children the benefit of
the believing parent's faith, instead of attainting them through the
heathen parent. So, when a child is baptized in error, he shall not
suffer, nor even lose anything, if he will accept the covenant with its
seal. No one can justly reply to all this, that, therefore, every one
even though not of the church, may offer his child for baptism. No; for
these are exceptional cases, in which it is true that a covenant, even
if it be not fulfilled, has force, and things may enure under it which
one who does not make the required profession cannot receive. The
covenant, if but the outward conditions be complied with, places all,
who are in any way related to it, under various contingencies, which
sometimes, to some of the parties, may be productive of good. We see
illustrations of this in the great tenderness and love which we feel
toward a child whose parent has brought a stain upon himself and his
family. We find an echo, in our hearts, of those kind words of the Most
High, "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father;" and, if that
son behaves himself worthily, every good man is doubly careful to
protect and help him. In this way the broken, or unfulfilled, covenant
operates, with God and with man, to the good of some related to it. But
shall we, therefore, break our covenant? Shall the unworthy be
promiscuously admitted to its privileges? "Shall we continue in sin that
grace may abound?"

In speaking of the influence of sacraments, I am aware that we approach
enchanted ground. The human heart loves a religion of forms and
ceremonies, which professes to renew and save without self-denial,
breathing around us the quietism of ordinances, and lulling us to drowsy
forgetfulness of duty in the luxurious enjoyment of an irresponsible
religion. While, therefore, we cannot too carefully guard against the
abuse of ordinances, we must not forget that God, who made man, body and
soul, chooses to convey some of his gracious operations to us by the
help of the two simple sacraments, and that they are intended to act
upon us, in the hands of his Spirit, in the first instance; not merely
serving as offerings to God.

It is not that there are fewer children baptized now than formerly (if
such indeed be the case), that awakens sorrow and apprehension; but that
parents are deficient in the feelings which make us prize and use
baptism. This is the evil sign, and it is greatly to be deplored. One
must have intelligent views of the Scriptures as a whole,--of both
Testaments,--most fully to understand and value infant baptism; for its
roots were planted in the Old Testament. I always feel deep respect for
a church-member who comprehends this subject in its wide relations, and
is not swayed by the popular demand for an express sign at every step,
but can reason inferentially as well as when proofs are demonstrative
and palpable; and who has in his mind the whole system of redemption,
with its various economies, interdependent, and none made perfect
without the rest. When all our church-members come to understand and
feel the power of this subject in this manner, what times of enlightened
religious prosperity, and a high state of religious culture, it will
indicate. I pray and wait for the time when all our Pædobaptist
churches, of every name, will conspire to promote spiritual views of
children's baptism, holding it forth as the expression of spiritual
feelings, and discountenancing formalism in connection with it. Though I
was never an Episcopalian in my preferences, and though the appointment
of godfathers and godmothers may, like every good thing, relapse into
mere form, I honor it for its excellent and pious design of surrounding
the parents and the children with admonition and help. For there are
sponsors, I am happy to know, who are not mere formalists, but who make
it a rule to have an interview with their godchildren on or near their
birthdays, or the anniversaries of their baptisms, and, in an
affectionate, faithful manner, they endeavor to fulfil the vows which
they took upon themselves at the baptism. Blessings on such faithful
Christian friends! Happy the children who have them for helpers of their
faith and piety. Let us all, as church-members, be sponsors, at least by
prayers and a kind interest for it, to every child of a Christian
brother or sister, when we witness its baptism. Suppose a church-member,
after witnessing the baptism of an infant, its parents, perhaps, entire
strangers, goes to his place of private prayer, and, moved with
disinterested love toward those parents and the child, supplicates the
blessing of God upon them. Could Christian love be more pure than this,
or prayer more pleasing to God? In the revelations of eternity such
prayers will not only be rewarded openly by Him who saw those doors shut
with that secret love and piety, but blessings upon parents and child
without measure may be traced to such petitions as their procuring
cause. How good it is to perform such acts, knowing that they can never
come abroad in this world! Should every Christian who witnesses the
baptism of a child, afterward pray for that immortal soul in secret,
with special petitions, what an increased privilege and blessing it
would be esteemed to offer a child in baptism, and in God's house,
before a witnessing church, rather than at home! I hope, my dear
daughter, that you and Percival, as private Christians, will do good to
your own souls, and to the souls of baptized children, and to their
parents, by making it one of your private rules to pray in secret, on
the Sabbath, for every child whose baptism you witness.

The effort to promote and enforce infant baptism, by ecclesiastical
enactments merely, is absurd. We must fertilize the soil, not spread
glass sashes over the plants. Give Christians right views and feelings
about their covenant privileges and duties; disabuse them of their
mistakes about the severance of the Old Testament from the New; teach
them to look at Abraham, not as a decayed peer, or an old Jew, but as
the founder of the church of all ages, to whom Almighty God virtually
said, 'On this rock I will build my church,'--Abraham being the first
foundation stone, waiting for apostles to be added with him, and, as our
great representative, bearing in his hand the covenant made with him for
us, as well, as for the other great branch of the family of God; show
them that baptism is now the initiating ordinance, and that the old
covenant was never repealed, though the seal be changed; let them see
what it is to have God in covenant with them to be the God of their
seed; and, withal, let us correct, or modify, the intense anti-papal
jealousy of the Christian rites, which makes us all, unconsciously,
verge to the opposite extreme, thus missing the divinely-appointed
intention and use which there is in our two simple ordinances; and then,
with the revival of such spiritual views and feelings, and, as a
consequence, with greater reference in the prayers of Christians, public
and private, to the subject, the practice of children's baptism will
increase, as surely as accessions to the Lord's table increase when
people come to have Christ in them the hope of glory.

We, ministers, can do very much to promote a love for the ordinance in
many ways. We ought to make it convenient and pleasant by all the
expedients within our power. I like the practice which you speak of, in
your church, of the mother remaining with the child in the anteroom till
the introductory services and the loud organ-playing are over. Does
your pastor pour water into the child's face and eyes, and then begin
the words of baptism? I presume not; but I have seen it done. We should
not touch the child's head till near the close of the baptismal formula;
and then so that the child will not see the arm move toward it.

Much can be done by these simple expedients to promote a quiet and
pleasant attendance upon the delightful rite. I like the practice, in
your church, of chanting low some appropriate words of Scripture before
and after the baptism.

I am constrained to say, though with diffidence, that I fear some of my
good brethren give erroneous impressions by what they say of the
church-membership of children. They push it to extremes. They discuss
the question, What shall be done with baptized children, who, on
arriving at years of understanding, refuse to enter into covenant with
God? Church censures are asserted by some to be proper in such cases,
even to excommunication, or interference in some judicial way by the
church. So long as I believe in regeneration by the Holy Spirit, I
cannot feel that baptized children, as such, are, in any sense
whatever, in which the term is generally received among men, _members_
of the church of Christ; while, in another and most important sense,
they do belong to the church, hold a relation to it, and are a part of
it. Strictly speaking, and in the highest spiritual sense, they are not
even "the lambs of Christ's flock;" for lambs have the nature of sheep;
but the children of believers are, by nature, children of wrath, even as
others. And yet, in another sense, they hold a most important relation
to the flock of Christ, as no other children do. In its most important
sense, they are not to the church even what they are to the state; they
have no place whatever in the invisible church,--the church which is
saved,--till they are born again. If children are regenerated by the act
of baptism, of course it is otherwise; but, not believing this, I am
clear that the baptized child of a believer differs from any other
unregenerate child, who is not baptized, only in this: that God looks
upon it with peculiar interest and love, and that it is surrounded with
special and peculiar privileges, opportunities, promises, and hopes,
with regard to its being brought to repentance and saving faith in
Christ; and by baptism it is initiated into special relationship to the
people of God. The church also has special duties with regard to it.
Some of my brethren give great occasion to those who resist children's
baptism, to argue against it as Romish in its nature and effect, by not
discriminating clearly in using the words members and membership in
connection with children. Read almost any modern book against infant
baptism, and you will find that its main force is directed against the
practice as a "church and state" institution, and as making persons
members of the church by means of sacraments. Let us who are really free
from such imputation, assert the truly spiritual nature and object of
this ordinance. I wish to see it divested of all that does not belong to
it, made eminently spiritual, expressed in terms which cannot easily be
misunderstood, and appealing to the natural affections, the
understandings, the consciences, of spiritual men and women, as, in its
sober and legitimate use, God's great appointment, from the call of
Abraham to the millennium, for the increase and perpetuity of his

[Footnote 2: This subject is discussed by itself, and more at large, in
another part of this book.]

You are aware that the great question, which has made most of the
trouble in the Christian church from the beginning, relates to the
meaning and use of sacraments and ordinances, or what we call Symbolism.
The tendency of the human mind, even in Paul's day, as indicated by him,
with other things belonging to it, under the name of "the mystery of
iniquity, which doth even now work," was, to increase the number of
sacraments and ordinances, and make them bear an essential part in the
work of regeneration. The right to multiply or extend them, and the
claim that they possess a saving efficacy, characterizes one great
division of the professed Christian church, while those who are called
Protestants and the Reformed, regard them chiefly as signs; though of
these, some seem to have much of that appetency after undue reliance on
forms which Paul seeks to correct in the Epistle to the Galatians, while
others go to an opposite extreme, and undervalue the two
divinely-appointed sacraments, which they think have no efficiency as
used by the Spirit of God, but only as signs used by us to represent

Between these divisions of the Christian church lies the battle-ground
of great ecclesiastical controversies from the beginning, as the
Netherlands were, for a long time, the battle-field of Europe.
Archbishop Leighton seems to strike the balance between formalism and
sacramental grace in ordinances, as well as any writer, in commenting on
these words of Peter, "The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth
also now save us." He says:

"Thus, then, we have a true account of the power of this, and so of
other, sacraments, and a discovery of the error of two extremes. (1.) Of
those who ascribe too much to them, as if they wrought by a natural,
inherent virtue, and carried grace in them inseparably. (2.) Of those
who ascribe too little to them, making them only signs and badges of our
profession. Signs they are, but more than signs merely representing;
they are means exhibiting, and seals confirming, grace to the faithful.
But the working of faith and the conveying Christ into the soul, to be
received by faith, is not a thing put into them to do of themselves, but
still in the supreme hand that appointed them; and he indeed both causes
the souls of his own to receive these his seals with faith, and makes
them effectual to confirm that faith which receives them so. They are
then, in a word, neither empty signs to them who believe, nor effectual
causes of grace to them that believe not."

Let me make the distinction very clear to your mind, for it is of great
practical importance. The "mystery of iniquity" in Paul's time, and
since his day, did not, and does not, consist in making too much of
God's ordinances in their purity and proper use. That cannot be done,
any more than you can intelligently love the Bible too much, or the
Sabbath. But, to pervert them, or to make additions to them, or to rely
upon them wholly, is Romanism. But can men make too much of having a
seal on a deed? Is the deed good for anything without the seal? Can they
make too much of having three witnesses to their wills? Those three
witnesses, instead of two, make an otherwise worthless writing, a man's
last will and testament. Thus, a true sign, ordinance, or seal, among
men, has inherent efficacy of some sort. Shall we deny it to the
ordinances and seals of Heaven? He who lays claim to the covenant, but
rejects the seal, deceives himself. They must go together.

But will you not think me older even than I claim to be, because I am so
garrulous? I have many things to say, but will not say them with pen and
ink, hoping to see you shortly. Farewell, my dear daughter, to you and
your beloved husband, with abundant kisses for your little namesake,
who, I pray, may be spared to you, if God has any work for her to do on
earth. Dedicate her sincerely and entirely, beforehand, to God, and then
in his house, with baptism, before the assembled brethren in Christ; and
let your subsequent treatment of her be a repetition of the whole.
Baptizing a child, with right views and feelings, leads to much prayer
for it. Renew the consecration of your child daily, in little, sudden
acts of prayer, as well as in more deliberate offices of devotion. Thus
surround it with an atmosphere of faith and consecration, not forgetting
the public transaction in which you covenanted with God, before many
witnesses, for the child, and He, my dear daughter, with you, in its
behalf. For, a covenant implies two parties; and God is one, and you are
the other; and Jesus is the mediator, who said of children, "Of such is
the kingdom of God." "He that came down from heaven," had seen, in
heaven, how largely that world is peopled with them. "Of such is the
kingdom of heaven." Peace be with you. All send love.

   Your affectionate Father.

Chapter Third.


   Where is it mothers learn their love?
     In every church a fountain springs,
   O'er which th' eternal Dove
     Hovers on softest wings.

   O, happy arms, where cradled lies,
     And ready for the Lord's embrace,
   That precious sacrifice,
     The darling of his grace!


We took Bertha to church when she was two months old. The minister,
being fond of music, had, for some time, requested the choir to chant
select passages of Scripture at baptisms.

So, as we came up the aisle with the child, the choir breathed out those
words, "And I will establish my covenant between thee and me, and thy
seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to
be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee." "Suffer the little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the
kingdom of God." "And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon
them, and blessed them." And, as we turned away from the font, they
added, "So shall he sprinkle many nations." "The Lord shall increase you
more and more, you and your children." "But the mercy of the Lord is
from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his
righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep his covenant,
and to those that remember his commandments, to do them."

How I loved that choir, and the congregation! for, many a face did I see
bathed in tears, and others beaming with smiles and love, as, with
respectful, half-turned looks, they seemed to give us their blessing.

"Do you not think, more than ever," I said, to the beloved grandmother
of my child, after church, as we watched the little sleeper in her
cradle, "that people lose very much in having their children baptized at

"It makes a different thing of it," she replied. "I felt that all the
congregation loved Bertha and you. How many prayers you obtained for her
and for yourselves, which you would have missed by a private baptism!"

"Besides," I remarked, "'God loveth the gates of Zion more than all the
dwellings of Jacob.' I think that for that reason, and on the same
principle, namely, that he is more honored, he regards our public
dedication of children with more favor than a private baptism, except,
of course, where sickness makes the public service impossible. But it is
some trouble to mothers, and no doubt many shrink from it."

"The trouble is more in anticipation than reality," she replied. "That
pastor's room, where they stay till the introductory services are over,
makes it more convenient and agreeable. But all the trouble, even if it
were far greater, is nothing compared with the satisfaction of having
taken your offering and come into His courts. You have paid your vows
unto the Lord, in the presence of all his people. You will remember
those prayers, those words of Scripture which were chanted, and your
feelings as you took the child into your arms to be presented to God,
and as you heard those adorable names pronounced upon her and then
received her back into your arms, as it were, from the hands of God."

"What do you think," said I, "of the practice of having children
baptized in the church on a week-day? It enables the parents to attend
meeting on the Sabbath with more composure than when they bring their
children on the Sabbath."

"But O," said she, "what is that, compared with the privilege of
bringing the child before the whole church of God, in his house, on the
Lord's day, and so identifying its baptism with the most solemn acts of
public worship? I do not like those week-day baptisms. Where they have
the communion lecture in the afternoon of a week-day, there may be
reasons of convenience for bringing the children for baptism then,
rather than on the Sabbath; but there is a great loss of enjoyment, and
also of impressiveness, in the ordinance, in doing so, I think. I was at
a place, several years ago, when fourteen children were baptized on a
Wednesday afternoon, in the church. I went to see it, but it was not
solemn at all. I could not help thinking what an impressive and useful
sight that would have been on the Sabbath, before all the people, and
how much more good, probably, it would have done the parents, even if
they had given up half the Sabbath in going and returning with the

"If people," said I, "thought more of the spiritual meaning and
privileges of baptism, and viewed it as they do in times of sickness and
death, they would think less of inconveniences and discomforts, and see
that the ordinance is something more than giving a child a name."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some time after this, I called upon a cousin of ours, a young married
lady of our congregation, who, within a year, had come to us from
another place, she having been married to an educated, intelligent
member of another congregation, and who, from his great love for her,
had come with her to our place of worship from another denomination,
this having been made a condition of their marriage. For she felt that
she could not be debarred the privilege of sitting at the Lord's table
with her mother, three sisters, and brother, as she would be if she
united herself with her friend's church. The idea of going to any table
of Christ on earth where they could not come, thus seeming to
disfranchise her whole family whom Christ had gathered into his fold,
and some of them into heaven, did violence to her feelings. At one time,
it seemed likely that the engagement of marriage would be terminated, on
this ground alone. Some one of the gentleman's persuasion, who thought
that she "ought to follow Christ in ordinances," and "take up her cross"
in this instance, whispered to her that she was, perhaps, in danger of
denying Christ, from love to her kindred, and he said to her, "He that
loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me." This had the
opposite effect from that which was intended, for it showed her, in the
strongest light, the error of supposing that love to Christ could ever
require her to separate from herself, at the table of Christ, such
friends of Jesus as the members of her dear Christian home,--a home
which had been like that of Bethany to many of the Saviour's friends.
She felt more sure of being actuated by right motives in giving up her
marriage, and not withdrawing fellowship from her mother and the family,
than she would be in sacrificing that fellowship to gratify a new
affection. Her next younger sister was baptized after the father's
death. She was a deaf-mute. The mother was a very beautiful woman. She
had borne severe trials for her religion with a spirit of patience and
Christian propriety which won the love and esteem of the community. She
went to the altar of God, a widow, with the little deaf and dumb child,
and presented it for baptism. It was as though the impending calamity of
its father's death had shut up some of the senses of the child, and God
had placed it in the mother's hand as a silent memorial to her, for
life, of his chastising love. She left her fatherless flock in the
family pew, and went with her nursling, not merely to give it to God,
but to receive for it the seal of his covenant, bowing submissively to
his inscrutable appointment, and imploring the God of Abraham to be
still her God, and the God of this her seed. That scene had not failed
to make deep impressions upon the other children; and now it was
proposed to one of them that she should, by connecting herself in
marriage, disavow her mother's right to cling, in those hours of
anguish, to that asylum of the fatherless, infant baptism,--that very
present help in trouble, the covenant of God with believers and their
offspring. The little child, moreover, had become a Christian, and had
sat with her sister, side by side, at the communion-table, for several
years. "Forbid it," she prayed with herself, "that I should go where I
cannot be allowed to follow Christ till I have separated this dear one
from my side."

She once wrote a letter on the subject to the gentleman, which he
showed, after their marriage, to some of his friends. There will be no
impropriety in its appearing here. It ran thus:

     "MY DEAR MR. E.: Though I am not willing to deny that Roger
     Williams was, as you say, raised up to illustrate some important
     principles, and to help on the general cause of truth, I must say
     that he strikes me as a very unreasonable man in much of his
     behavior. Our puritan fathers did not come to this wilderness with
     French, atheistic, idolatrous love for a goddess of liberty. They
     came here, it is true, for liberty of conscience and freedom to
     worship God. With a great sum they purchased this freedom. But
     infidels could as well claim to be absolved by the laws from all
     recognition of God, under the plea of liberty, as Mr. Williams and
     his friends could make his demands for toleration. To insist that
     our fathers, in their circumstances, should have opened their doors
     wide to every doctrine, and to the denial of everything professed
     by them, is unreasonable. They came here with an intense love for
     certain truths and practices, which persecution had only served to
     make exceedingly precious to them. To have proclaimed at once
     universal toleration of every wind of doctrine, would have proved
     them libertines in religion. Because they did not so, reproach is
     cast upon them by some, who seem to me to be free-thinkers on the
     subject of religious liberty. If other men wished to found a
     community with doctrines and practices adverse to those of the New
     England fathers, the land was wide, and it would have been the part
     of good manners in Mr. Williams to have gone into the wilderness at
     once, to subdue it and to fight the savages, all for love and zeal
     for his own tenets, instead of poaching upon the hard-earned soil
     of those who had laid down their all for what they deemed to be the
     truth. It seems to me unphilosophical in some of our historians to
     reflect, as they do, upon our forefathers for not being so totally
     indifferent to what they deemed error, as to allow it free course.
     Their strict, and, if you please, rigid ways, were the necessary
     defences of their principles, which were just taking root here.
     They did right in passing stringent laws to protect them; and
     religious liberty was no more violated in doing so than is the
     liberty of our town's people here, who, by the law of the State
     protecting game, cannot take fish, or kill birds, during certain

     "Besides, I never saw any proof that Mr. Williams was himself the
     great apostle of toleration. I remember reading to father, during
     his sickness, some remarks of the late John Quincy Adams, in which
     he vindicates the New England fathers for banishing Roger Williams
     as a 'nuisance.'[3] Mr. Adams surely cannot be accused of bigotry,
     nor of being an enemy to the cause of freedom; and his remarks
     seemed to me more just than the eulogies, by historians and
     orators, of Mr. Williams. Father once showed me an old book of Mr.
     Williams's, which we have now, called 'George Fox digg'd out of his
     Burrowes,' in which Mr. W. inveighs against the Quakers for their
     want of 'civil respect,' and for using 'thee' and 'thou,' in
     addressing magistrates and others. He says, on the two hundredth
     page, 'I have therefore publickly declared myself, that a due and
     moderate restraint and punishing of these incivilities (though
     pretending conscience) is as far from persecution, properly so
     called, as that it is a duty and command of God unto all mankinde,
     first in families, and thence unto all mankinde societies.'--It is
     also a matter of history that the colony settled by Mr. Williams
     refused their franchise to Roman Catholics, though even then the
     Roman Catholics of Maryland were tolerating people of his own
     faith, and Quakers also. Mr. Williams always seemed to me like one
     of our pious, zealous 'come-outers.' He even forsook his own
     denomination in three months after he had been baptized, and for
     forty years denied the validity of their sacraments, and the
     scripturalness of their churches and ministry. Such a man would
     even at this day be excommunicated by every society, unless it
     were some association for the encouragement of radical notions of
     liberty. I no more see in him the impersonation of religious
     freedom, than in some other good people who go or stay where they
     are not wanted. I am not disposed to deny that you and your
     friends, with their principles, of which you, erroneously, I think,
     claim Mr. Williams as the great exponent, 'have a mission,' as you
     say, to perform; but I do not feel called upon to join in it. Some
     of your writers seem to me--shall I say it?--a little too sure of
     having just the right pattern and patent-right in ordinances, and
     somewhat too complacent in not being liked by other denominations,
     and perhaps a little disposed to look for persecution. Now I was
     pleased with a remark of Matthew Henry's, on Mark 10:28, that 'It
     is not the suffering, but the cause, that makes the martyr.' But we
     were brought up under different associations, and cannot see just
     alike in all things. I cannot, however, contradict, by any step
     which my feelings would incline me to take, the Christian
     citizenship of those who are dear to Christ, and are so precious to
     me. As much as I love you, I think you should feel perfectly free
     to leave me in my happy home, if you cannot allow me to retain my
     fidelity to my own conscientious convictions of truth, and to the
     sacred rights of those whom nature and grace have conspired to make
     inseparable from my own Christian hopes and joys."

[Footnote 3: "Can we blame the founders of the Massachusetts Colony for
banishing him from their jurisdiction? In the annals of religious
persecution is there to be found a martyr more gently dealt with by
those against whom he began the war of intolerance; whose authority he
persisted, even after professions of penitence and submission, in
defying, till deserted even by the wife of his bosom; and whose utmost
severity of punishment upon him was only an order for his removal as a
nuisance from among them?"--_Discourse before Mass. Hist. Soc._, 1843,
pp. 25-30.--[ED.]]

The gentleman agreed to allow her the largest liberty, and they were
married. He knew that she had a mind and heart that were more precious
than rubies, and that the heart of a husband could safely trust in her.
The sequel will show, however, how good it is to be matched as well as
mated, and, in the conjugal relation, to be "perfectly joined together
in the same judgment."

The object of my call, that evening, was to rejoice with her, and to be
the bearer of some congratulations at the recovery of their infant,
whose death had been expected for some time. The child was now perfectly

As I stood in the entry, not having rung the door-bell, and was hanging
up my hat and coat, some one in the parlor said:

"What good can it do the child or us to sprinkle a little water on its

"Good-evening, Mr. M.," said the husband, as I went in. I was
interrupted in my expression of a fear that I had intruded upon their
conversation, by their assurances to the contrary. "I am glad you came
in," said Mr. Kelly, "for perhaps you can help us. You heard, I suppose,
what I was saying as you came in. If I am not mistaken, Mr. M., you
yourself are not very strenuous about infant baptism, for I have heard
of your making inquiries on the subject."

"Not only have all my doubts been removed," said I, "but the baptism of
my child has been the source of the richest instruction and comfort."

"I am glad to hear you say so," said Mrs. K.

"But," said Mr. K., "you do not, of course, derive your warrant for it
from the word of God. That is our only guide, you know. There is no more
authority in the Bible for baptizing children than there is for praying
to saints. You are probably aware that the practice originated in the
third century of the Christian era."

_Mr. M._ It originated with a man by the name of Abraham, I believe,
sir, two or three thousand years before Christ.

_Mr. K._ O, then, you go to Judaism for it!

_Mr. M._ Judaism comes to me with it, and hands it over to me. There was
something good in Judaism, we all think. Judaism was not a Mormonism, as
certain ways of speaking of it not unfrequently would make us think it
to have been; it was not an exploded folly, but the form which the
church of God bore for two thousand years. But it began before Judaism;
it is older than Moses. Judaism received it from Abraham. It is like a
great river rising in a desert place, and seeming to lose itself in a
lake, but flowing out again into another lake, and thence to the sea. So
Judaism was only a great lake, which took and seemingly held this river
of baptism for a time, but its current went on and flowed into another
lake, the Christian dispensation. But you cannot say that a river which
makes a chain of lakes, rises, for that reason, in the first lake. No,
its head spring, in this case, was antecedent to the lake.

_Mr. K._ Did Abraham or the Jews baptize children, Mr. M.?

I answered, "Every male child of Abraham's descendants, who should not
receive the sign of consecration to God, was to be cut off from among
the people. Proselytes of the covenant and their children were baptized,
very early."

_Mr. K._ But where is the command to apply baptism to children?

_Mr. M._ Where, my dear sir, is the command to discontinue that which
was enjoined upon the founder of the race of believers for all time? I
believe in the perpetuity of Abraham's relation to us as the father of
the faithful, as I believe in Adam's relation to us as the
representative of the race, and in the Saviour's relation to us as our
representative. God seems to love these federal headships, as we call
them. Abraham did not receive circumcision being a Jew, but, as the
apostle says, "as a seal of the righteousness which is by faith, which
he had while he was yet uncircumcised." We have Scripture for that, Mr.
Kelly. And "the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after," did
not disannul that covenant "that was confirmed before of God in Christ."
How can you call circumcision a Jewish ordinance, when the Bible so
explicitly denies it to be of Jewish origin?

_Mr. K._ O, I do not understand this Abrahamic covenant. I take the New
Testament for my guide.

_Mr. M._ You think well of the book of Psalms, I presume, as a help to
prayer and pious feelings?

_Mr. K._ Yes; but in all matters of faith and practice, the New
Testament, like the doings of the latest session of the legislature, is
the rule for New Testament believers. You might as well have tried to
govern the ancient Jews with the New Testament, as enforce the laws of
the Old Testament on us.

_Mr. M._ Is the privilege of having God stand in a special relation to
my child an Old Testament ordinance, in the same sense with ceremonial

_Mr. K._ Not exactly that, but it is a superstition to baptize children,
now that circumcision is done away, and believers' baptism is enjoined.

_Mr. M._ Believers' baptism is enjoined, but children's baptism is not
therefore prohibited.

_Mr. K._ But where is it enacted?

_Mr. M._ If the original form of dedicating children is essential, why
is not the original form of the Sabbath essential, the very day which
was first appointed? How dare we change a day which God himself ordained
from the beginning, until he makes the change as peremptory as the
institution itself? Have we any right to infer, in such an important
matter? Where is the express, divine command,--not precedent, example,
usage, but where is the enactment,--making the first day of the week the
Christian Sabbath?

_Mr. K._ So long as we may keep the thing, observing one day in seven,
it makes no difference which day we keep, if we can all agree on one and
the same day. We do not all agree to retain circumcision in any way.

_Mr. M._ So long as we may retain the thing signified by circumcision,
it makes but little difference what form is used to express it.

_Mr. K._ The apostles, who changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the
first day, knew the mind of Christ.

_Mr. M._ And so the men, who first practised infant baptism, knew the
minds of the inspired apostles, and they knew the mind of Christ. But to
go a step further back, the only ground for inferring that the Sabbath
is rightly changed from the seventh to the first day of the week, is the
incidental mention of Christ's meeting his assembled disciples a few
times after his resurrection on the first day. On that slight ground we
are all content to rest our present observance of the Sabbath. Now, I
say that the mention of the baptism of households eight times, in one
form and another, is as good a warrant for infant baptism, as those two
or three Sabbath-evening meetings were for the institution of the
Lord's-day Sabbath.

_Mr. K._ I cannot agree with you, Mr. M., in putting circumcision on the
same level with the Sabbath.

_Mr. M._ I myself see a resemblance in the changes made in the two
cases. I have no wish to proselyte you to my views. I have only answered
your polite inquiries.

_Mr. K._ O, I know that; we shall be good friends still; but I see no
grounds for baptizing children on the faith of their parents.

_Mr. M._ We look at the thing from different points of view. I see it as
clearly as I see that the church of God is essentially the same in all
ages, with its variety of forms. This matter of children's baptism is
with me a spiritual thing, and is independent of dispensations. You know
that a river may have, in one district of the earth through which it
flows, one name, and in another district another name, while it is the
same river. Now, the divine recognition of believers' children, as
standing in a special covenanted relation with God, is the headspring of
infant dedication by the use of a rite. The object of this recognition
is, that He may have a godly seed. God does not perpetuate religion
directly by natural descent, it is true, but he seeks to promote it by
descent from a pious parentage, and he therefore endows that parentage
with special privileges and promises. The inclusion of children with
their believing parents has been the great means of perpetuating
religion in the earth. It is a stream which washed the shores of Judaism
under the name of circumcision; now it washes the shores of the Gentiles
under the name of baptism. For the Saviour or the apostles to have
reäppointed infant dedication, with the use of the cotemporary
initiating ordinance, would, to my mind, be as superfluous as for the
allied powers to have agreed that the Danube should still run through

_Mr. K._ Your principle of interpretation, Mr. M., has brought in all
the darkness which has covered the earth in the Romish apostacy. There
will be no end to human inventions in religion, if this principle

_Mr. M._ But, my dear sir, there certainly has been an end at the very
beginning; for what inventions in Protestant worship have non-prelatical
Pædobaptists made? Surely that practice has not been prolific of
superstitions. I often hear this alleged, Mr. K., and we are called
Romish and Popish because we baptize infants. But will it not be best
for Christian sects to allow each other entire liberty of conscience,
and not accuse each other of tendencies to Romanism, when all are
zealously Protestant? Here is a piece, which I cut from a newspaper
lately, which describes the baptism by immersion of some females and
others, one Sabbath in January, the thermometer below zero, a place
being cut through the ice for the purpose, and a boy watching with a
pole to keep the floating ice from the opening. Shall I call this
Romish, superstitious, fanatical? Shall I say, How can we, consistently
with such practices among Protestants, say anything about the doctrine
of penances? No. I prefer to think that those who do these things are as
good Protestants as myself, and I will not impeach their rigid adherence
to their belief, by imputing Romish tendencies to their modes of
worship and their ordinances; for no people are further from Romanism in
their principles than they (unless it be some of us Pædobaptists, Mrs.

_Mr. K._ Well, there is no quarrelling with you; but let me say that
when another sect sees you employing an ordinance which has no warrant
in the Bible,--sprinkling water upon people, on proper subjects and
improper subjects for baptism, when we know that the word _baptize_
means to _immerse_, and that believers only are properly baptized,--how
can we be silent? Would you be silent if Episcopalians should set up
Latin prayers, or the confessional; or the Methodists turn their
love-feasts into the old Passover?

_Mr. M._ We must tolerate the mistakes and errors of those who, in the
main, are confessedly good, and are conscientious in what we deem their
errors. When the noble array of great and good men in the Episcopal Low
Church, and among the Methodists, fall into such mistakes as you have
specified, there will be opportunity for other Christians to express
themselves. But you are rather rhetorical in your reasoning, to compare
the practice of infant baptism by Owen, and Watts, and Doddridge, and
Leighton, and Baxter, and all like them, with Latin prayers and a return
to the Passover.

_Mr. K._ There is not a case of sprinkling in the New Testament. You are
too well-informed to deny this.

_Mr. M._ Mr. K., there is not one instance of baptism, in the New
Testament, where there does not appear to me to be an improbability of
its having been administered by immersion.

By this time Mrs. K., who had been called away to attend to her child,
returned, and hearing my last remark, said, with a significant look at
her husband:

"We shall require you to prove that, Mr. M."

"Most willingly," said I. "Do you think, cousin Eunice, that the
multitudes who came to John and the apostles to be baptized, brought
changes of raiment with them?"

"No," said she; "and there were no conveniences for making a change of
dress in those places, I presume."

_Mr. M._ Were they immersed in the clothes which they had on?

_Mrs. K._ That does not seem probable. Some of them, at least, had
valuable garments, we may suppose, and few, if any, would wish to have
their apparel wet through, or to keep it on them, if wet.

_Mr. M._ They were not immersed without clothing, of course,
promiscuously, and, therefore, I believe that they were all baptized by
sprinkling or pouring, their loose upper garments allowing them to step
into the water, or very near it; and John, standing there (and the
apostles, also, when they administered baptism), and laying on the water
with his hand, or, which is not impossible, with the long-accustomed
bunches of hyssop. The Episcopal mode of administering the Lord's
Supper, enables me to conceive how baptism by sprinkling could be
administered rapidly. As six or more people are kneeling, the Episcopal
minister gives each his portion of the bread, and repeats the formula,
not to each one, but once only while his hand is passing over the six.
So, I imagine, John repeated whatever form he had (and the apostles
theirs) to companies, while, in rapid succession, he applied the water
to them. It is impossible to account for the performance of such
incredible labor as John must have undergone, unless we adopt some such
supposition as this, or confess that John's baptism was, throughout, a
miracle. But "the people said, John did no miracle." If the apostles
sprinkled three thousand in this way, by companies, in one day, as they
could easily have done, we can see how the same day there could be
"added unto them about three thousand souls," even if "added" meant
being baptized. That the apostles had assistance in administering
baptism at this early period, is not probable. They had not yet proposed
to have helpers in taking care of the poor, much less to share with them
the first administration of Christian baptism. If any church were to
require me to believe, before admitting me to the Lord's table, that the
apostles immersed three thousand people at the day of Pentecost, after
nine o'clock in the morning, in the midst of necessary labors, and at
that driest season of the year, or in tanks, I could no more believe it
than I could confess that the earth is flat.

_Mrs. K._ But "John was baptizing in Enon, near to Salim, because there
was much water there."

_Mr. M._ "Much water," in those countries, was on a smaller scale than
in North America. They would have needed all the lake-shore or river
banks that could be found, to witness the baptisms, and to pass in and
out of, or to and from, the water, conveniently, while John stood to
receive them in or near the water. A fountain or small body of water
would not have accommodated those multitudes; not because the water
would not suffice, for a small running stream would be enough, and would
have afforded "much water;" but think what inconvenience there would
have been in baptizing a crowd around a small stream. Baptism by
immersion, among us, though a few gallons of water only are needed, is
more conveniently done where there is "much water;" because the
spectators can spread themselves along the banks, and then there is no
confusion. The most convenient and rapid way of baptizing multitudes by
sprinkling would be, for the administrator to stand in the water, and
let the people pass by him. Besides, those multitudes who came to John's
baptism needed "much water" for themselves and their beasts.

_Mrs. K._ But the Saviour went down into the water, and came up out of
the water.

_Mr. M._ So did John, in the same sense; and so did "both Philip and the
Eunuch;" but John and Philip did not, therefore, go under the water. But
Mr. Kelly will tell you that _down in_ to, and _up out_ of, might as
well have been translated to and from, in the case of the Eunuch. If you
insist that going down into the water involves immersion, it follows
that Philip went under the water with the Eunuch, and there baptized

_Mr. K._ We shall set those matters right in that new version of the
Bible which you were complaining of the last time I saw you. Down into,
and up out of, are required by the word baptize, which means immerse.

_Mr. M._ No, my dear sir, not always, even in the New Testament. The
word had come, even in the Saviour's time, to signify purification, or
consecration, irrespective of the mode. The Pharisees, in coming from
the market-places, except they wash, eat not. The word is baptize. But
they did not bathe at such times; they "baptized" themselves by washing
their bodies. We read of the baptism of beds, which was merely washing
them. The Israelites were baptized unto Moses. There the word means,
simply, inaugurated, or set apart, with no reference to the mode; for,
they were not immersed, but bedewed, if wet at all; they were not buried
in that cloud, for the other cloud that led them was in sight; they were
not buried in the sea, which was a wall to them on either hand.

There is a good illustration, it seems to me, of the change in words
from their literal meaning, in the passage where Christ is called the
"first-born of every creature." He was not _born first_, before all men,
but he has the "preëminence" over all creatures, as the first-born had
among the children. Here is an illustration, from the New Testament, of
the way in which _baptism_ may cease to denote any mode, and refer only
to an act of consecration.

As to that new version of the Bible, Coleridge says, that the state
ought to be, to all religious denominations, like a good portrait, which
looks benignantly on all in the room. So the Bible now seems to look
kindly upon all Christian sects; and, for one, I love to have it so.
But, some of you, good brethren, who are in favor of this new version to
suit your particular views, are trying to alter the eyes of the portrait
so that they shall look only on you, and to your part of the room. We
think that you ought to be satisfied with the present kind look which
you get from them. There is one comfort--you will make a new picture to
please yourselves, and we shall keep the old portrait.

"Please do not be too severe on my husband for that mistake of his,"
said Mrs. K.; "I think that he is getting better of it, in a measure."

_Mr. K._ I will make you a present of the book when it arrives, and,
perhaps, you will agree with me. But I am surprised to hear you say that
you do not believe the Saviour to have been immersed by John.

_Mr. M._ It was not Christian baptism, at any rate, if he were; for the
names of the Trinity are essential to Christian baptism, and those names
had not been thus applied.

Besides, John could not have plunged and lifted those thousands without
superhuman strength and endurance, which we know he did not possess. The
same reasoning applies, in the baptism of the three thousand at the day
of Pentecost, both as respects what I have said of raiment, and the time
and strength of the apostles.

The baptism of the Eunuch was, to my mind, most probably by sprinkling,
making no change of raiment necessary. "See, here is water,"--a spring,
or stream, by the road-side, quite as likely (and, travellers now say,
more probably) as a pond. Yes, sir, Philip went down into the water just
as much as the Eunuch did, if we follow the Greek literally. I think
that _down_ refers to the chariot, the act of leaving it to go to the
water. But the English version, as it now stands, makes strongly for
your view of the case in the mind of the common reader.

Saul of Tarsus was baptized after having been struck blind, and while he
was in a state of extreme exhaustion from excitement, without food; for,
during three days, "he did neither eat nor drink." He was baptized
before he ate; for, we read, "And he arose and was baptized; and, when
he had received meat, he was strengthened." It does not seem to me
probable that they would have put him into a river, or tank, before
giving him food. But it seems to me natural and suitable for Ananias to
draw nigh, and impress the trembling man with the mild and gentle sign
of Christianity, the rite giving a soothing and cheering efficacy to the
words of adoption, and in no way disturbing him in body or mind. I have
always regarded the baptism of Saul as a strong presumptive proof with
regard to baptism by affusion.

So with the midnight scene of baptism in the prison at Philippi. The
preparation of one or more large vessels, to immerse the household, is
not congruous with the circumstances narrated, as I read them. But the
quiet and convenient act of baptism by sprinkling, falls in harmoniously
with the other parts of the transaction. For my part, I have always
wondered how any one can fail to see that there are so many
improbabilities of immersion in every case of baptism, in the New
Testament, as to counteract any weight which the word baptize carries
with it, more especially since the word and its derivatives are
employed, in the New Testament, in cases where the mode of using the
water is evidently not intended.

_Mr. K._ "Buried with him in baptism." Mr. M., you will confess that
this is an impregnable proof-text. You have never been "buried with him
in baptism."

_Mr. M._ But I am "risen with him," Mr. K. With all humility and tears,
I must say to you, "If any man trusteth to himself that he is Christ's,
let him also think this with himself, that as he is Christ's even so
also we are Christ's." Your application of the passage, just quoted by
you, disproves your interpretation of it. If we must be buried in water,
when we are baptized, then no one is risen with Christ who has not been
immersed. You thus disfranchise four fifths, to say the least, of God's
elect. No, my dear sir, being buried with Christ in baptism does not
mean immersion. People in the frozen ocean, the sick and dying, who are
sprinkled with water in the name of the Christian's God, are "buried
with Christ in baptism into death;" that is, profess to be dead and
buried to sin, as Christ was dead and buried for it. Besides, follow out
the passage, and there is no allusion to the form of baptism, as I can
perceive, but to something else. "Buried with him by baptism into death;
that like as Christ was raised,"--from the water?--yes, if water baptism
be now in the writer's mind; but no,--"like as Christ was raised from
the dead, by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
newness of life." The word buried, therefore, in this passage, refers to
the completeness of the Saviour's death for sin (as we say intensively
of a deceased person, he is dead and buried), and of the completeness
of our renunciation of it. We are dead and buried to sin, as Christ was
for it; and we rise to newness of life, when we profess to be
Christians, as Christ rose from the dead, not from the water.

_Mr. K._ How is it with infants? Are they dead and buried to sin when
they are baptized? If being buried, in this passage, means being dead
and buried to sin, then infants are regenerated by baptism.

Mr. K. gave his wife a pleased look, as though he had placed me in a

"Mrs. Kelly," said I, "how do you suppose that nursing children ate the
first passover?"

"I suppose that they ate it through the faith of their parents," said
Mrs. K., looking narrowly into the stitches of her crochet-work, to
control a smile.

"That passover, however," said I, "was the means of saving those
children, who, many of them, were the first-born in their respective
families. Yet they were saved by the passover through the faith of their
parents. Do not understand me as urging the comparison to an extreme; I
only say that there we have an example of parents acting for the child
in a matter of faith. The infant child was incapable of believing, and
even where the first-born was grown up, the parent acted for him in the
ordinance, by sprinkling the door with blood. I do not prove infant
baptism by this, but I use it to show that parents may use an ordinance
for their infants. Mr. K. asks if baptized infants are buried with
Christ in baptism into death,--that is, die unto sin and rise to newness
of life. The parents profess by the baptism that they will use means to
effect this in their children, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. I
should like to ask Mr. Kelly if he believes that every person who is
immersed, is buried into death, spiritually, with Christ, or is actually
dead to sin forever; or, whether it is only a profession of one's hope
and intention. For we have all known some, who had been buried in water,
that did not prove to have died unto sin."

_Mr. K._ Of course it is a symbol; and all we insist on is, that Paul
must have had immersion in mind, as the form of baptism, when he spoke
of being buried by baptism.

_Mr. M._ When Paul says, "I am crucified with Christ," do you suppose
that the idea of a cross was in his mind? Did he intimate that
sanctification is effected by a piece of wood, with a transverse beam,
used as a gibbet? Or did he simply mean, I am dead to the world, and the
world is dead to me, yea, and put to death (not merely dying in a
natural way), through the power of the Saviour's sufferings and death on
my behalf? The burial of Christ, following his death for sin, and so
completing the idea of dying, is enough to have suggested the figure, I
think, of our being not only dead with Christ, but buried with him, by a
Christian profession; that is, we utterly cease from the world and sin,
professedly, as Christ not only died, but went into the tomb. But what
does "risen" refer to in that passage,--the water or death?--"from
whence also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of

_Mr. M._ Why, how do you understand it?

_Mr. K._ I prefer, if you please, that you should answer. Many
understand it thus: "You are buried in water, to denote death to sin;
you are lifted up out of the water (as Christ was lifted up by the
Baptist), to live a new life." If this be so, what is "the operation of
God," which is spoken of there? Does it need any such "operation" for
an immersed person to rise out of the water? No, my dear sir, our
interpretation makes plain and thorough work of the whole passage. Our
idea of that controverted passage (your great proof-text) is this: You,
Christian professors, were, all of you, baptized, on profession of your
faith;--when you made a Christian profession, you signified by it your
dying unto sin, as Christ died for it, so that, I may say, you were dead
and buried to sin. But, as Christ came to life again, so you rose with
him, not to sin, but to live a new life. Hear Dr. Watts on the passage:

   "Do we not know that solemn word,
     That we are buried with the Lord,
   Baptized into his death, and then
     Put off the body of our sin?

   "Our souls receive diviner breath,
     Raised from corruption, guilt and death;
   So from the grave did Christ arise,
     And lives to God above the skies."

I do not believe that the mode of baptism is alluded to at all in this

_Mr. K._ I cannot agree with you, sir. The contrary is perfectly clear
to my own mind.

"Mr. M.," said Mrs. Kelly, "do you think that you and Mr. K. would ever
think alike on this subject?"

"Never," said I. "People almost always end where they began, when they
discuss this topic; only they do not always leave off in such
good-nature as Mr. K. and I intend to do. I never knew a person to
change his views to either side, unless he began as an inquirer, and not
as an advocate."

"What is the reason," said Mrs. K., "that good people are left to differ
so about unessential things in religion, when they all hold to the same
way of being saved?"

"I suppose," said I, "that, as poor human nature is, for the present,
more is effected, on the whole, by letting us divide into sects, and
giving us each some external or speculative discrepancies to excite our
zeal. It is a sad reflection upon us, if this be so, and our sectarian
behavior illustrates that hardness of our hearts, in view of which,
perhaps, God suffers us to divide as we do. But, still, you see how
wisely God has ordained that good people shall not differ about
essential things--that might be fatal to the success of his truth; but
they are left to divide about forms, and ordinances, and some doctrinal
matters which do not involve the question of the way to be saved. In
that they all agree."

_Mrs. K._ How pleasant it would be if they would all think alike!

_Mr. M._ Perhaps it might not be best at present. They should tolerate
each other's views, meet and act together where they may; but I do like
to see a man heartily attached to his own denomination, without bigotry.
I have not much partiality for those schemes of union which require and
expect each sect to give up its peculiarities, and which seek to
amalgamate us. It is unnatural. Let each be thoroughly persuaded of his
own faith;--different temperaments and habits of thought are suited by
different modes and forms;--but let us treat each other as Christians,
and with urbanity and kindness. That is the most sublime spectacle of
union. It comes nearer to fulfilling the prayer of Christ, "that they
all may be one," when we differ strongly, and yet keep the unity of the
spirit. I am doubtful whether, even in heaven, there will not be such
innocent diversity of views about things successively beyond our
knowledge or comprehension, as to stimulate inquiry and discussion; but
that we shall ever be capable, as we are here, of alienation, in
consequence of these varying opinions, is impossible.

_Mr. K._ Do you not think, Mr. M., that we shall all think alike about
baptism in the millennium?

_Mr. M._ I suppose that you expect that we shall all give up infant
baptism. But my expectation is that, as we approach that day, the last
prophecy of the Old Testament will be as truly fulfilled as it was at
the coming of Christ, and that the hearts of the fathers will be turned
to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. Parental
piety and discipline will be greatly promoted, and an attendant of it
will be, I suppose, a greater use of the ordinance of infant baptism,
demanded by the pious feelings of parents, as pious feeling in the
regenerate craves the ordinance which commemorates the love and
sufferings of the Redeemer. The feelings of pious parents will require
the ordinance of infant baptism, as an expression of their earnest
desire to have fellowship with God as the God of the believer and his
offspring, the covenant-keeping God. It is to the increase and
prevalence of this feeling that I look now for an increasing observance
of infant baptism; for, without such feeling, the ordinance is an empty
name. Where that feeling exists, it soon modifies the speculative views
of a parent. As our conscious need of an atoning Saviour soon dispels
the former difficulties about the doctrine of the Trinity, so a longing
desire to have special covenanting with God for a dear child, makes the
subject of God's everlasting covenant with Abraham, as the great
believer, and the father of believers, plain.

Now, before I forget it, please let me tell you of an objection to
infant baptism, which I lately met with, drawn from the effect of the
prevalent practice of it in a community.

The objection is, it prevents us, in a measure, from fulfilling Christ's
command, "Go, teach all nations, baptizing them." For, going into the
Roman Catholic or Greek churches, or an Armenian country, and making
converts, the missionaries cannot baptize them, for, alas! they were
baptized in infancy, and to re-baptize is against the law of the

Now, this seems to me no great calamity; for if the converts themselves
recognize their baptism, and adopt it as profession of their faith, it
is like a man's acknowledging the hand and seal on an instrument, made
irregularly at first, but now, under competent circumstances, declared
to be equivalent to his own act and deed at the date of this
declaration. He would not need to re-write the document, nor to use wax
or wafers again, except in witness of his acknowledging the original
act. "Though it be but a man's covenant, yet, if it be confirmed, no man
disannulleth or addeth thereto."

But, however it may be in such countries and communions as I have named,
certainly it cannot be a calamity if the practice of infant baptism
becomes such a spiritual and practical thing, that young persons are
generally converted, so that adult baptisms disappear. I love to notice,
when several persons join our church, how few of them receive baptism,
showing that their baptism in childhood has been followed by conversion.
The fewness of adult baptisms, with us, compared with cases of infant
baptism, is a good sign. They will be fewer and fewer, in proportion as
our parents make and keep covenant with God for their children.

Mr. Kelly was at this moment called out, but requested me to remain and
finish the conversation with Mrs. K. She resumed it, saying:

"Had I better read any more on the subject? My feelings lead me
strongly to take our little one to church. I feel that I should be
strengthened by the solemn act of doing what the covenant of your church
says, 'avouching the Lord Jehovah to be your God and the God of your
children forever.' I do wish to feel that I have done something like
bearing testimony before God, in a special way, that I give my child to
him, and engage God to be his God."

_Mr. M._ I should candidly examine whatever Mr. K. wishes you to read or
hear on the subject, and not be afraid of the truth, let it lead where
it may. But what first made you think of baptizing your little boy?

_Mrs. K._ I always loved the ordinance. But, when I thought that Henry
was going to die, I was watching him all night, and, as I was praying,
it occurred to me that I wished I could see the church praying for him;
and that led me to think of the church praying for a child when it is
brought into the house of God. I felt that night that, if I could speak
to the pastor, I would ask him to request the prayers of the church for
him as for one who, if he got well, should be brought into the house of
God, and be publicly consecrated, and I with him, again, as his mother,
to the Lord. I had given him and myself to God; but I felt the need of
some more special act, on which I could fall back in my thoughts, and of
which God would graciously say to me, "I am the God of Bethel, where
thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me."

_Mr. M._ How kind it was in God to remind Jacob of that pile of stones,
and to call himself the God of Bethel! O, how he loves marked exercises
of consecration and love!

_Mrs. K._ My husband always said, "Let him offer himself for baptism
when he grows up, and understands the meaning of it." I told him that
when I was admitted to the church I was not baptized, but I had this
pleasant feeling, that I had a baptism in infancy by my dear good mother
to think of now, and to seal by my own acknowledgment. If Henry had died
without being baptized, or should now be hindered from it, I should
never cease to grieve.

_Mr. M._ You think, however, that he would be saved, nevertheless.

_Mrs. K._ O, saved! that is not all. I do not think merely of his
getting into heaven. Though we are saved wholly by grace, is there not
something implied in "washing our robes, and making them white, in the
blood of the Lamb?" I do not believe in justification by works nor by
sacraments, yet I do believe in their wonderful effect, through grace
alone, upon our character and future condition. I do believe, Mr. M.,
that there is a difference between children whose parents, impelled by
love to God, make public offering of their children to him, with solemn
vows, and daily perform their vows, treating their children as baptized
in the name of the Trinity, and children whose parents either carelessly
baptize them, or feel no such spiritual desires for them as to seek the
use of any public ordinance, nor any special private consecration. I
believe that God regards them differently. He has placed his mark on the
baptized. I must go with my son to God's house, as Hannah did, and with
her feelings. How strange! She prayed for that son, and then, as soon as
he was weaned, she gave him away to God; for it is beautifully said, you
know, "And the child was young." Well, I think I understand that. I
could leave Henry in the temple, if the service of God's house required
him; for, when he was sick, I gave him up to God, and as long as he
liveth he shall be the Lord's. How did cousin Bertha feel about the
baptism after your little boy died?

_Mr. M._ It was often the chief topic of her conversation. Her father
wrote a full statement of his views, which helped her greatly. We have
read it over since we lost our child. I will send it to you, if you
wish. You can read it, with Mr. K.'s books, and I wish you to show it to
him if he cares to see it.

All this was done. Kind feelings prevailed; there was not much
discussion, and, one Sabbath morning, little Henry Kelly was brought to
church. But the mother was without the father. He was called to a
distant place on business; but he allowed his wife to act her pleasure
in the case during his long absence. More of this in its place.

Chapter Fourth.


   Were love, in these the world's last doting years,
   As frequent as the want of it appears,
   The churches warmed, they would no longer hold
   Such frozen figures, stiff as they are cold;
   Relenting forms would lose their power, or cease,
   And e'en the dipped and sprinkled live in peace;
   Each heart would quit its prison in the breast,
   And flow in free communion with the rest.


Opening my entry door, on my return, several faces looked out to welcome
me, all in the house having waited till a late hour, with surmises as to
the cause of my long absence, and then all dispersed, except the
venerable, and not yet aged, grandmother of little Bertha. With her it
was always pleasant to talk.

_Mr. M._ Have you had no company this evening? I was in hopes that the
Moores would come in, as they promised to do.

_Mother._ They have been gone nearly an hour. Mr. Moore wished to read
husband's letter, so Bertha lent it to him.

_Mr. M._ Father will be glad to know how much good his letter is doing.
Cousin Eunice would be glad to see it, and I wish to read it again, for
I find that I am likely to need more instruction, if I am to discuss the
subject as I did this evening with Mr. Kelly.

_Mother._ Was he at home? I hope you did not get into a controversy
about baptism; for, of all things, nothing dries up religious feelings
like that.

_Mr. M._ The subject has taken too practical a hold upon my feelings to
have that effect. I find myself more and more led to believe that God
gave his church an appointed form of baptism, and that that form was
sprinkling; for I search the New Testament in vain for a single case
where immersion seems to have been practised. I believe that, under the
operation of early tendencies, of which Paul writes to the
Thessalonians, the church began to prefer immersion as more sensuous,
making a stronger appeal to the passions. But I believe, with the New
Testament for my guide, that immersion was not practised by the apostles
themselves. The word baptize had, even in the Saviour's time, to go no
further back, come to mean a thing done irrespective of the mode. How
would it sound, "I have an immersion to be immersed with, and how am I
straitened?" &c. "Are ye able to be immersed with the immersion that I
am immersed with?" I believe that sprinkling was the original mode of
Christian baptism. And it seems to me unlikely that God would appoint an
ordinance, and not appoint, by precept or example, the mode of it. I
believe that the mode of baptism was appointed, as well as the rite
itself, and I see no instance of baptism in the New Testament by
immersion. Pouring, whether more or less copiously, has this probability
in its favor, in addition to the impression which the narratives make,
viz., The Lord's Supper typifies the death of Christ. Burying in
baptism, then, would be superfluous; it is more likely that the form of
this other sacrament would represent something else, and that is, the
Holy Spirit's cleansing influence, because Christ speaks of being "born
of water and of the Spirit," thus associating water with the Spirit. We
moreover read of "the water and the blood," water thus being
distinguished from blood. Now, the Holy Spirit is always named in
connection with being poured out. We are baptized with, not in, the Holy
Ghost. It would do violence to our feelings to hear one speak of our
being immersed in the Holy Spirit. So that I fully believe in sprinkling
as the original New Testament mode of baptism. And, still, I am inclined
to agree with your friend, the professor, who spent New-year's evening
with us, and has just published a book on baptism.

_Mother._ What ground does he take?

_Mr. M._ He writes somewhat in this way: As to the mode, I believe it to
be unessential; for it seems to me contrary to the genius of
Christianity to make a particular form of doing a thing essential to the
thing. What else is there in Christianity, if we are to except baptism,
in which modes are regarded or made essential? It is not so, he says,
with the Lord's Supper, surely; the upper room, night, sitting or
reclining, unleavened bread, a particular kind of wine, and all such
things, are not regarded by any as necessary to the ordinance. It is
very interesting, he says, to notice, that, whereas the old dispensation
prescribed the mode of every religious act, minutely, and a departure
from it vitiated the act itself, Christianity threw off everything like
prescriptive modes altogether. Considering the attachment of the human
mind to forms and ceremonies, he knows of nothing in which Christianity
shows its divine origin and supernatural power more, than in its sublime
triumph, so immediately, in the minds of great numbers, over forms and
ceremonies. We can hardly conceive, he says, what a revolution a Jew
must have experienced in giving up Aaron, and altars, and times, and
seasons, and all the minute regard for his religious ceremonies, at
once. Even if it were the original practice to baptize only by
immersion, he cannot think that Christianity could have enjoined it as
the only proper mode of applying water, in signifying religious
consecration. Bread and wine, eaten and drunk decently and in order, in
any way whatever, constitutes the Lord's Supper; water, applied to the
person, by a proper administrator, in the name of the Trinity,
constitutes Christian baptism; but, had the New Testament required us to
recline, and lean on one arm, and take the Lord's Supper with the other
arm, insisting that this posture is essential to that sacrament, or had
it specified the quantity of bread and wine, he thinks it would have
been parallel to the uninspired requirement of a particular mode in
applying the water in baptism.

"Baptize," he further remarks, it is said, means immerse. Suppose that
it does. Supper means a meal; therefore, one does not "eat the Lord's
Supper," unless he eats a full meal; for, if baptize refers to the
quantity of water, supper refers to the quantity of food and drink in
the other sacrament. He then seems to exult, and says, "I am glad that I
am not in conscientious subjection to any mode of doing anything in
religion, as being essential to the thing itself."

_Mother._ What answer can be made to this?

_Mr. M._ It is a very common ground, and a convenient one, to answer the
argument from _baptizo_, and the early practice of immersion in the
Christian church after the apostles. No doubt the early Christians
satisfied themselves with this reasoning, in departing from the
apostolic practice of sprinkling. But I prefer to adhere strictly to the
New Testament model. There is no immersion there. Now, is it allowable
to depart from the original mode? This could not be done in the first
initiating ordinance of the church,--circumcision. A departure from the
prescribed rule would have vitiated the ordinance. But, does not
Christianity differ essentially from the former dispensation in this
very particular, that it does not make the mode of doing a thing,
essential? Yet, it may be said, Human ordinances are all strictly
binding in the very forms prescribed. For example: "Hold up your right
hand," says the clerk, or judge, to a witness; "you solemnly swear--."
Let the witness, instead of holding up his right hand, if he has one,
and can move it, capriciously say, "I prefer to hold up the left, or to
hold up both. I wish to show that modes and forms are unimportant." He
would be in danger of contempt of court. If so small a departure from
the mode of swearing would not be allowed, much less would he be
permitted to kneel, or to lie on his face, unless he were some devotee.
No; there is a prescribed form, and he must yield to it. It is also
said, that, if there were cases in the New Testament in which it were
doubtful, at least, whether immersion were not practised, we might argue
in favor of mixed modes. But immersion is baptism, in my view, because a
person who is immersed is sure to get affused; and, affusion with water
is all of the baptism which seems to me essential. Leaving those who
first departed from the apostolic mode of baptism by sprinkling, to
answer for themselves, no one, of course, will deny that those who
conscientiously think that they ought to be baptized by immersion, are
acceptable with God, as well as others who are of a contrary persuasion.
Paul speaks of "divers baptisms." There began to be such in his day. He
speaks also of the "doctrine of baptisms" (plural), showing the same

But I came near forgetting one thing, which I wished to say, which is,
that, in reading the Bible last evening, I found a new encouragement in
taking infants to the house of God.

_Mother._ I should like to hear anything new on that point. I thought
that everything had been exhausted which referred to that subject.

_Mr. M._ I mean that it was new to me. Luke says that the parents of
Jesus brought him to Jerusalem "to present him to the Lord," and that,
arriving there, they brought him into the temple to do for him after the
custom of the law. Now, I always carelessly thought that this meant

_Mother._ Of course it does; I always thought so.

_Mr. M._ No; for he had already been circumcised, when he was eight days
old. "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the
child, they called his name Jesus." Then the next verse speaks of a
subsequent act: "When the days of her purification were accomplished
they brought him to Jerusalem." Mary could not have come to Jerusalem on
the eighth day; but, on the second occasion, she was present; for Simeon
addressed her. So that we have the example of the infant Saviour, in
bringing our infants into the temple; and, if we are scrupulous as to
following the Saviour in ordinances, we may as well begin by following
him into the temple, with our infants.

_Mother._ It is beautiful to think of Jesus, even in his infancy, as an
example, and that he was forerunner to the infants of his people, while
yet in his mother's arms.

Chapter Fifth.


       Since, Lord, to thee
   A narrow way and little gate
   Is all the passage; on my infancy
   Thou didst lay hold, and antedate
       My faith in me.


   The parent pair their secret homage pay,
   And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,
   That He, who stills the raven's clamorous nest,
   And decks the lily fair in flowery pride,
   Would, in the way his wisdom sees the best,
   For them and for their little ones provide,
   But chiefly in their hearts, with grace divine, preside.


   In all men sinful is it to be slow
   To hope: in parents, sinful above all.


In a few Sabbaths from this time we had a most interesting scene at our

Little Henry Ferguson Kelly was brought, and offered up in baptism by
his mother. We all felt deep respect for her as a woman of decided
character, and a devoted Christian. We saw that she wept much during the
service. The father was not there. She held the little boy upright on
her arm, and he turned his face over her shoulder, looking all about the
church, above and below. He then undertook to apply his little palm to
his mother's cheek, with several decided strokes, to rouse her usual
attention, which he seemed to miss. She took his hand in hers, and held
it, and he then rested his cheek, and his chin, alternately, upon her

A sweet little girl, two months old, was also brought by a young couple
to be baptized. Few things are more interesting than the sight of a
young couple, with their first-born child, standing before God. A world
of thought and feeling passes through their minds in those hallowed
moments. Not much more than a year had gone since they stood before God
to take the vows of marriage from those same lips, perhaps, which now
lead their devotions, and bless them out of the house of the Lord. The
little child is an offering which gathers about itself more of rich joy
and gratitude, recollection, present bliss, and anticipation, than any
gift of God; it is itself an ordinance, a little rite, a sign and seal
of covenants and love to which earth has no parallel. The light of
nature almost teaches us the propriety of infant dedication, in the use
of the prevailing religious rite. The only wise God manifested his
goodness and wisdom, in establishing his covenant with the children of
those who love him, as really as in creating a companion for Adam.

There were other sights, on this baptismal occasion, besides Henry
Ferguson and his mother, and the young couple with their child.

A woman, in the habiliments of the deepest mourning, went up the aisle,
leading with her finger a little boy between two and three years old,
followed by a noble son of fifteen, and his sister of twelve. Our
pastor's rule, as to the limit of age within which children may be
admitted to baptism, is this: So long as a parent, or guardian, or next
friend, has the immediate tutelage of a child, so as to direct its
instruction and government, and thus continues to exercise parental
authority, he may properly offer the child for baptism; and therefore,
as children differ as to degrees of maturity within the same ages, no
express boundary of time can be prescribed to limit those baptisms which
are by the faith of another.

The father of these three children had been lost at sea on a whaling
voyage. The seaman's chest had come home, and so the last star of hope
as to his return had set. The mother had become a Christian; she felt
the need of a covenant-keeping God for her children. There she stood, a
sorrow-stricken woman, and her household with her, to receive for them
the sign of the covenant from the God of Abraham.

There was another sight in that group: A man and woman, honest, good
people, in humble circumstances, had had bequeathed to them, by a
widowed sister of his, who was not a professor of religion, a
feeble-minded youth of about ten years; and this uncle and aunt had
adopted him as their child. They also came, the husband leading the boy
along, with his arm over the boy's shoulder to encourage his hesitating
steps, and the wife behind them. He was a member of a Sabbath-school
class; by no means an idiot, yet deficient in some respects. He was
entrusted with affairs about a farm which did not require much

Little Henry Ferguson began to coo and crow, as they came successively
and stood, in a half-circle, round the table with the silver basin upon
it. The feeble-minded youth was mostly occupied with the actions of
Henry, who, on seeing his face covered with uncontrollable expressions
of interest in him, began to reach after him, and respond to his pleased
looks; nor did he cease his efforts to go to him, till he felt the
minister's hand upon his forehead from behind, when he turned his large,
beautiful eyes into the face of the minister, with silent wonder at
being apparently spoken to with so unusual a manner and tone. A hush
went through the congregation.

The young couple next presented their little Alice, and gave place to
the widow's household. Was there a dry eye in the house? Signs of
weeping came from all sides. Mortimer was led by his arm in his mother's
hand, and was baptized. Sarah loosened her straw bonnet, and let it fall
back from her head, to receive the simple rite; when the widow lifted
the little boy, who had never known a father's love, and the pastor,
after waiting a moment to control his emotions sealed him in the name of
our redeeming God.

After an involuntary pause for a few moments, owing to the deep emotion
in the congregation, poor Josey was led forward. Minister and
congregation seemed to make but slight impression upon him; Henry
Ferguson was the charm throughout; he even turned his head, while the
minister's hand was on it, to smile at the child. The promise was not
only to those believing parents, all of them, and to their own children,
but to him that was afar off; his new parents having availed themselves
of the large covenant of grace, to invoke its promised blessings upon
him, on the ground of their faith. "May these parents," said the pastor
in his prayer, "remember, in all times of solicitude and trouble with
this dear dependent child, that the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, in whose
name he is baptized, can have access to his mind, 'making wise the
simple;' and may that blessed Spirit make him his care."

Part of the time, while the hymn following the baptism was read and
sung, I found myself pursuing some thoughts which the interesting scene
just witnessed had suggested.

Why, I asked myself, could not these parents have been satisfied with
dedicating these children at home, without this public and special act
of consecration?

I was at no loss for an answer. The same reason applies as when one
seeks admission to the church of Christ, by a public profession of
religion, either by appearing before a congregation and assenting to a
covenant, or to be confirmed, or to be immersed in water. Offering a
child in baptism is making a public profession of religion with regard
to it. Some say to us, What need is there of joining a church? Why may I
not be a Christian by myself? We know what we say, in reply to such
questions. We are aware how much the public act helps the private
feelings and conduct, besides being required by our feelings when they
are deep and strong. I thought of this illustration: In the wakeful
moments of the night, upon a lonely bed, one feels a special nearness to
God. He can think of God, as he lies upon his pillow, both with prayer
and meditation; but suppose that he rises from his bed and kneels at the
bedside, and, with oral prayer, prevents the night-watches, and cries?
His voice at that midnight hour affects his mind; the darkness and
stillness impress him with a sense of the presence of God, and though
his ejaculations on his pillow were acceptable, has he not probably done
that which, through Christ, is peculiarly acceptable to God, and is
profitable to himself as his child? He who was always in communion with
the Father, the man Christ Jesus, nevertheless, sometimes withdrew into
a mountain, and continued all night in prayer, and, rising up a great
while before day, he went into a solitary place, and there prayed. These
special acts of worship, no true Christian needs to be told, are good
and acceptable to God, and profitable for men. We do not refrain from
them, pleading that they are nowhere commanded in the New Testament, or,
that, so long as we pray at stated times, or strive to live in a praying
frame, these special devotions are superfluous. So, while it is our duty
and privilege to dedicate our children to God in private, it is
acceptable to him, and profitable to us, if we take them, and bring an
offering, and come into his courts.

The baptism of the feeble-minded youth furnished me with an illustration
of the suitableness of parents and guardians doing for children, in
religion, that which they are constantly doing for them in common
things, that is, conferring privileges and blessings upon them without
their consent. There seemed to be such an illustration of the riches of
free grace, in the baptism of this poor child, such a comment on that
passage, "I am found of them that sought me not," it corresponded so
much with the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man, that we
all felt instructed and softened by it, and, at the same time, we all
had feelings toward that helpless boy, such as we, perhaps, never could
have had but for his baptism. Never will a member of that witnessing
congregation see him, without a feeling of tenderness and something
bordering on respect; he will not be merely "Silly Joe" to them; that
element of truth in the heathen superstition, which leads heathens and
pagans to regard an idiot as something sacred, will have its
verification with regard to him; the children of that assembly will be
restrained from rudeness and cruelty, in their sports with him, by that
transaction, while the prayers offered for him at the time, and the many
ejaculations which the sight of him will occasion in the hearts of good
people, will make his baptism one of his richest blessings. O, what a
loss it is to have a child baptized at home, or anywhere and at any
time except among the public services of the Sabbath in the sanctuary of
God! Necessity, indeed, controls our choice, many times, in this thing;
and we are accepted of God irrespective of time and place, in yielding
to his providence.

Since my mind has been deeply interested in this subject, leading me to
converse with parents and with ministers, and to make observation with
regard to it, I have seen and heard many things relating to the
providences of God, in connection with the baptism of children, which,
while we ought to be slow in confidently interpreting providences, make
us do as Mary is said to have done, in regard to things relating to her
child,--she "kept these things and pondered them in her heart." We
cannot say, for example, that the death of that little girl, whose
father refused to let his wife enjoy the privilege of going, alone, with
the child, to the house of God for baptism, or to invite the pastor to
his house for the purpose, was a judicial consequence of his conduct;
but we know that his own thoughts trouble him, and that he has a sorrow
bound upon his heart, which he will carry with him to his grave.

Neither is it certain that the little one, who was raised to life from
a sickness which baffled the physicians, was spared to her pious mother
for her Christian behavior, in taking it, a few months before, to the
house of God, and offering it in baptism, with no help from her husband,
but with many sad thoughts that the father of the child--he on whose arm
she and the child needed to rest--refused her gentle and affectionate
pleadings with him, to support and cherish her at an hour so precious to
her heart. Nor will we say that the kind and obliging husband, not a
professor of religion, who served his wife so manfully, and with such a
cheerful spirit, on such an occasion, would not have acquired, in other
ways, the respect and love of the people, or that he could trace to it,
absolutely, great prosperity in business, through the assistance of
prominent members in that church. Sure we are that no such motive
influenced him; but it is equally true that we cannot link ourselves to
God's service, nor to his friends, in any way, without receiving his
blessing. "Come thou with us, and we will do thee good." "Blessed is he
that blesseth thee." In the eyes of estimable people, and of all whose
good opinion and best wishes are most desirable, the man who overcomes
any little pride, or sensitiveness, or fear of man, and goes with his
pious wife and child to the house of God, and offers the child, for her,
to be baptized, is more of a man than before, gains reputation for some
desirable qualities, excites respect for self-reliance, the quiet
performance of a duty from which certain feelings might lead him to
shrink, and in the increased love and esteem of others, to say no more,
he has his reward.

God was angry with Moses for delaying, if not neglecting, to circumcise
his child. His wife was a Midianite; her associations with the ordinance
were not like those of Moses, and perhaps he had yielded too much to her
known feelings. At least, the child had not been circumcised, and we are
told, "The Lord met him in the inn, and sought to slay him." Some
accident there, or a sudden and alarming illness, made him feel that God
had a controversy with him. Zipporah was not slow to interpret the
providence. If Moses had said with himself, So long as I consecrate my
child to God by prayer, the seal of the covenant cannot be essential,
God taught him his mistake. As soon as the rite had been performed, we
read, "So he let him go." It may be noticed, here, that the unworthy
manner in which Zipporah performed the rite, did not make it invalid.
They who fear that their baptism was not solemnized, in all respects, as
it should have been, may draw instruction and comfort from this

There have been instances, within my knowledge, in which one or both of
the parents of a child have yielded to some untoward influences, and
have withheld the child from being baptized. While I cannot, and would
not, interpret certain events connected with this omission, on the part
of some from whom better things might have been expected, nothing has
ever impressed me more than the dealings of God with such parents. I
have been made to think by such coincidences, more than once or twice,
of Moses in the inn. It will not be amiss to say, that those who are
neglecting to bring their children for baptism, within a suitable time,
unless providentially hindered, will do well to examine their feelings
and motives, with that quickened conscience, which the solemn
providences of God toward them may be intended to excite. He is "a
jealous God;" and he keepeth covenant "to a thousand generations."

Chapter Sixth.



   Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.--Ps. 90.

   The Lamb hath but one bride, the one church of all times.--ANON.

   That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power

   Schoolmen must war with schoolmen, text with text.
   The first's the Chaldee paraphrase; the next
   The Septuagint; opinion thwarts opinion;
   The Papist holds the first, the last the Arminian;
   And then the Councils must be called to advise,
   What this of Lateran says, and that of Nice;
   The slightly-studied fathers must be prayed,
   Although in small acquaintance, into aid;
   When, daring venture, oft, too far into 't,
   They, Pharaoh like, are drowned, both horse and foot.


Being determined to possess myself of suitable information on the
subject of baptism as practised by the early Christian fathers, I
called the next evening to see my pastor, when the following
conversation took place:

_Mr. M._ I wish, sir, to know the plain and simple truth about the
evidence from ecclesiastical history with regard to infant baptism. The
internal evidence, confirming the scriptural argument, fully satisfies
me, yet, as a matter of interesting information, I should like to know
how it was regarded in the age next to that of the apostles. You know we
often read, and hear it said, that infant baptism is an error which
crept into the Christian church about the third century. Now, did it
creep in; or did the apostles practise it?

_Dr. D._ If infant baptism crept into the church, and if it be an
unauthorized innovation, one thing seems very strange, that, in this
Protestant age, when we are all so jealous of Romish and all human
inventions in matters of religion, the ablest and soundest men of all
Christian denominations but one, are firmly persuaded of its scriptural
authority, and are increasingly attached to it. In the great
reformations which have arisen from time to time, this practice would
have been swept away, had it been an error. It is more than we can
believe that Protestant denominations should all, with one exception,
adhere to an unscriptural practice, at the present day especially.

_Mr. M._ Well, sir, leaving the scripturalness of the ordinance out of
question, what support does the practice get from church history? How
far back to the times of the apostles can we trace it? Did any practise
it who could have received it from the apostles, or have known those who

_Dr. D._ You must come with me into my study, and we will examine the

I will not burden your attention and memory with many citations. Two or
three indisputable witnesses are better than a host. I rely chiefly on
the testimony of ORIGEN for proof that the practice of infant baptism
was derived from the apostles, though I will show you that his testimony
is confirmed by other witnesses.

ORIGEN was born in Alexandria, Egypt, A.D. 185, that is, about
eighty-five years after the death of the apostle John. To make his
nearness to the apostles clear to your mind, consider, that Roger
Williams, for example, established himself at Providence in 1636, say
two hundred and twenty years ago; yet how perfectly informed we are of
his opinions and history. But Origen, born eighty-five years only after
the death of John, knew, of course, the established practices of the
apostles, which had come down through so short a space of time. "His
grandfather, if not his father, must have lived in the apostles' day. It
was not, therefore, necessary for him to go out of his own family, to
learn what was the practice of the apostles. He knew whether he had
himself been baptized, if we may judge from his writings, and he must
have known the views of his father and grandfather on the subject. He
had the reputation of great learning, had travelled extensively, had
lived in Greece, Rome, Cappadocia, and Arabia, though he spent the
principal part of his life in Syria and Palestine."

I would place implicit reliance on the testimony of such a man, under
such circumstances, to any question of history with which he professed
to be familiar, even if I differed from him in matters of opinion. But
such a man would not state, for veritable history, that which the world
knew to be false.

Now, what is Origen's testimony as to the fact, simply, of the
apostolic usage with regard to infant baptism?

In his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Book v., he says:

"For this cause it was that the church received an order from the
apostles to give baptism even to infants."

In his homily on Lev. 12, he says:

"According to the usage of the church, baptism is given even to infants,
when, if there were nothing in infants that needed forgiveness and
mercy, the grace of baptism would seem to be superfluous."

In his homily on Luke 14, he says:

"Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins."

It was the practice, then, in Origen's day, to baptize infants. He tells
the people of his day, to whom he preaches and writes, why it was that
the church had received a command from the apostles to baptize them, not
proving to them the fact of history, but, taking that as well known,
explaining the theological reason for it, as he understood it.

It is now 1857. Eighty-five years ago, the length of time after the
apostles to the birth of this man, brings us back to 1772. There is good
Dr. Sales, who was born in 1770. Suppose that he should say that
steamboats came from England at the time that the Hudson river was
discovered, and that they had plied there ever since?

No man in his right mind (not to say a scholar like Origen), however
singular his opinions, would assert, for veritable history, that which
was as palpably false as such a fiction respecting steamboat navigation
upon the Hudson would be. Yet Origen asserts that the practice of infant
baptism was received directly from the apostles. Everybody could
contradict him if he were in error.

_Mr. M._ But we know that he was in error in saying that forgiveness of
sins was a consequence of baptism.

_Dr. D._ Very well. The erroneous opinions, or practices, of men, with
regard to the shape of the earth, did not prove that there was no earth
in their day. On the contrary, their theories and speculations are
proof, if any were needed, that the earth then existed, surely. A man
who boldly advocates a theory, fears to assert for fact that which all
the world knows to be false.

_Mr. M._ If infant baptism were then practised, and had been received
from the apostles, why should Origen assert it in his books, and in
preaching, since everybody must have known it sufficiently. Does not
this prove that it was not generally believed?

_Dr. D._ Why, my dear sir, am I not every Sabbath telling how that
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures? People do not need
to be informed of it as a truth of history, but they need to be reminded
of it, and to be exhorted in view of it. So of every doctrine, and
everything connected with religion. We tell the plainest, the most
familiar, truths to our church-members, continually; and the common
repetition of those truths is, rather, a proof of their general
acceptation than otherwise.

_Mr. M._ In a court of justice, such testimony as that of Origen would
certainly be conclusive, in the case of a patent-right, or maritime
discovery. But you said that there were other testimonies of equal

_Dr. D._ TERTULLIAN was born at Carthage, not far from A.D. 150, that
is, about fifty years after the apostles. He wrote, therefore, within a
hundred years of the apostle John. But he was a man of peculiar views,
extravagant in his opinions, an enthusiast in everything. He proves that
the practice of infant baptism was established, by arguing against the
expediency of baptizing children, and unmarried persons, lest they
should sin after baptism. His argument, with respect to both these
classes of persons, is the same. His language is, "If any understand the
weight of baptismal obligations, they will be more fearful about taking
them than of delay." He argued that baptism should be deferred till
people were in a condition to resist temptation. These are his words:

"Therefore, according to every person's condition, and disposition, and
age, also, the delay of baptism is more profitable, especially as to
little children. For why is it necessary that the sponsors should incur
danger? For they may either fail of their promises by death, or may be
disappointed by a child's proving to be of a wicked disposition. Our
Lord says, indeed, 'Forbid them not to come to me.' Let them come, then,
when they are grown up; let them come when they understand; let them
come when they are taught whither they come; let them become Christians
when they are able to know Christ. Why should their innocent age make
haste to the forgiveness of sins? Men act more cautiously in temporal
concerns. Worldly substance is not committed to those to whom divine
things are entrusted. Let them know how to ask for salvation, that you
may seem to give to him that asketh.

"It is for a reason no less important that unmarried persons, both those
who were never married, and those who have been deprived of their
partners, should, on account of their exposure to temptation, be kept
waiting," &c.

As these extracts prove that the institution of marriage existed in
Tertullian's day, so they prove the existence then of infant baptism.
Nothing can be more conclusive. How pertinent and useful to his object
would it have been, could he have assailed the practice of infant
baptism as a human invention! He would not have failed to use that line
of attack, had it been possible. Now, as certain articles in the
newspapers, in a distant part of the country, remonstrating against the
street-railroads, for example, prove that street-railroads exist there,
so does Tertullian's argument against infant baptism prove that it was
practised within one hundred years after the apostles.

_Mr. M._ Is not this stronger, if anything, than Origen's testimony,
being so much nearer the apostolic age?

_Dr. D._ For that reason it may have more weight; but Origen's
testimony, being direct and positive, is most easily quoted. He was near
enough to the apostolic age for all the purposes of credible testimony.

There is another historical testimony, if you wish to hear of more,
which has great weight.

THE COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE, one hundred and fifty years after the apostles,
and composed of sixty-six pastors, has given us full testimony on the
subject. A country presbyter, by the name of Fidus, had sent two cases
for their adjudication. One was, "Whether an infant might be baptized
before it was eight days old?" Here is the answer:

CYPRIAN, and the rest of the presbyters who were present in the council,
sixty-six in number, to Fidus our brother, Greeting:

"---- As to the case of Infants: whereas you judge that they must not be
baptized within two or three days after they were born, and that the
rule of circumcision is to be observed,--we are all in the Council of a
very different opinion." "This, therefore, was our opinion in the
Council, that we ought not to hinder any person from baptism, and the
grace of God. And this rule, as it holds for all, is, we think, more
especially to be observed in reference to infants, even to those who are
newly born."

This was written, within a hundred and fifty years from the time of the
apostles, by sixty-six ministers of Christ, some of whom, we may
suppose, must have had grace enough to show a martyr-spirit in resisting
so gross an invention as the baptizing of infants would have been, if
apostolic example had restricted baptism to those who were capable of
faith. Did Paul reprove an abuse of the Lord's Supper, among the
Corinthians, and would he not have given an injunction against so Jewish
a superstition as the baptizing of children in place of the antiquated
circumcision would have been, if it were not commanded, had the churches
in his day seemed inclined to practise it?

_Mr. M._ All these things amount to a demonstration, in my view.

_Dr. D._ You would like to hear something from AUGUSTINE, whose
"Confessions" you have read with so much interest.

In his writings, on Genesis, Augustine says, about two hundred and
eighty-eight years after the apostles, "The custom of our mother, the
church, in baptizing infants, must not be disregarded nor accounted
useless, and it must by all means be believed to be (apostolica
traditio) a thing handed down to us by the apostles." "It is most justly
believed to be no other than a thing delivered by apostolic authority;
that it came not by a general council, or by any authority later or less
than that of the apostles." He also speaks of baptizing infants by the
authority of the whole church, which, he says, was undoubtedly delivered
to it by our Lord and his apostles.

Augustine was a man of distinguished piety and learning, whose testimony
is every way worthy of implicit confidence. But, connected with his
history, we have another substantial evidence with regard to the
subject. He conducted a famous controversy against the Pelagians, who
denied original sin. They were confronted with the argument from infant
baptism. "Why," it was said, "are infants baptized, if they need no
change of nature?" It would have been a triumphant answer could they
have shown that it was an unscriptural practice, not countenanced by
Christ or the apostles. But Pelagius said, "Men slander me as though I
denied baptism to infants, whereas I never heard of any one, Catholic or
heretic, who denied baptism to infants." Pelagius and his friend
Celestius, who was with him in the controversy, were born, the one in
Britain, the other in Ireland. They lived for some years in Rome, where
they knew people from all parts of the world. They had also lived in
Carthage, Africa. One finally settled in Jerusalem, and the other
travelled among all the churches in the principal places of Europe and
Asia. But they had never heard of the man, not even a heretic, who had
denied infant baptism.

Here is another interesting proof. Irenæus, Philastrius, Augustine,
Epiphanius, Theodoret, wrote catalogues of all the sects of Christians
which they had ever heard of; but, while they make mention of some who
denied baptism altogether, and with it, according to Augustine, a great
part of scripture, they mention no denial of infant baptism by any sect

_Mr. M._ I suppose, then, that the only way of disposing of this
argument is by rejecting all testimony except that of the New Testament.
Some say they can prove anything from the fathers; so they insist that
the Bible alone must be our guide.

_Dr. D._ They are right in making that the only and sufficient rule of
faith and practice. But how do these good people and the rest of us know
that the books of the Old Testament, as we have them, were the very
books to which Christ and the apostles referred as the word of God? If
infidels refuse to receive the Bible, saying, 'There is no proof that
these are the identical books known to Christ, and quoted by him and the
apostles,' What shall we say? The Bible itself gives us no specific
direction how to prove its genuineness. It is interesting to observe
that we go to uninspired men to prove that we really have the Bible as
Christ and the apostles sanctioned it. We go to Josephus, neither
inspired nor even a Christian; to the Talmud, to Jerome, Origen, Aquila,
and other uninspired men, to find a list of the books which we are to
receive as given by the inspiration of God. And, as to the New
Testament, we go to Eusebius and other uninspired writers, and find that
the Christians of their days regarded these books as of divine
authority. It is on such evidence as this that we rely for the authority
of those sacred writings, which tell us what are the doctrines,
precepts, and rites, of religion. Now, we see from this that uninspired
testimony to divine things has its use. It is neither wise, nor any
proof of intelligence, to refuse a proper place to such testimony. We do
not ask Josephus nor Eusebius how to interpret these books for us, nor
does their erroneous opinion with regard to matters of faith disparage
their testimony as to the existence and authenticity of the sacred
canon. Neither can we properly say, "The early Christian fathers had
wrong notions, some of them, about infant baptism; therefore they cannot
be allowed to testify whether infant baptism was practised." However
heretical they may have been, they could not alter the well-known facts
of history, in the face of enemies and friends.

_Mr. M._ Are you not accustomed to rely much, in your scriptural
argument for infant baptism, on the baptisms of households by the

_Dr. D._ I am; and that reminds me of an interesting passage, which I
will read to you from this book:[4]

[Footnote 4: Taylor on Baptism.]

"Have we eight instances of the administration of the Lord's Supper? Not
half the number. Have we eight cases of the change of the Christian
Sabbath from the Jewish? Not, perhaps, one fourth of the number. Yet
those services are vindicated by the practice of the apostles, as
recorded in the New Testament. How, then, can we deny their practice on
the subject of infant baptism, when it is established by a series of
more numerous instances than can possibly be found in support of any
doctrine, principle, or practice, derived from the practice of the

But you will ask him (said Dr. D.), how he proves that there were
infants or young children in the households baptized by the apostles.

This is his answer:

"Is there any other case besides that of baptism, where we would take
families at hazard, and deny the existence of young children in them?

"Take eight families in a street, or eight pews containing families in
a place of worship; they will afford more than one young child."

_Mr. M._ How does he make out eight cases of household baptism by the

_Dr. D._ Let us examine his list:

1. Cornelius.

2. Lydia.

3. The jailer at Philippi. "Thus the church at Philippi, just organized
by the apostles, and consisting of but few members, offers two instances
of household baptism."

4. Crispus. "Compare Acts 18: 8, and 1 Cor. 1:14--16, by which it
appears that this Crispus was baptized by Paul separately from his
family, which was not baptized by Paul. Yet Crispus 'believed on the
Lord with all his house.' If his house believed, it was baptized. It
was, then, a baptized household. But if we believe that the family of
Crispus was baptized because we find it registered as believing, then we
must admit the same of all other families which we find marked as
Christians, though they be not expressly marked as baptized." He is not
proving, here, you notice, that there were children in any of these
households; he thinks he proves that elsewhere, by the doctrine of
chances. He is now showing the grounds for supposing that certain
"households" were baptized. He applies his argument respecting Crispus

5. Aristobulus's household.

6. Onesiphorus's household.

7. Narcissus's household.

8. Stephanas's household. This household was baptized by Paul separately
from its head, who was not baptized by Paul; this case being just the
reverse of that of Crispus.

"Eight Christian families, and therefore baptized." Now comes the
question of probability as to there being children in those households
not capable of faith.

Begin anywhere, in any congregation, on the Sabbath, and count eight
pews, the proprietors and occupants of which are the heads of families;
and the chance of there being no minor children in them is almost too
small to be appreciated. Should we read, in a secular paper, that a
foreign missionary had baptized eight households in a pagan village, the
general belief would be that it was a missionary of some Pædobaptist
denomination, and that children were baptized in those families.

I must read to you (said Dr. D.) something on the other side of this
argument. I found the following, not long since, in a deservedly popular
and useful Dictionary and Repository, written and signed by a gentleman
of excellent character and standing. He says:

"Infant baptism was probably introduced about the commencement of the
third century, in connection with other corruptions, which even then
began to prepare the way for Popery. A superstitious idea, respecting
the necessity of baptism to salvation, led to the baptism of sick
persons, and, finally, to the baptism of infants. Sponsors, holy water,
anointing with oil, the sign of the cross, and a multitude of similar
ceremonies, equally unauthorized by the Scriptures, were soon
introduced. The church lost her simplicity and purity, her ministers
became ambitious, and the darkness gradually deepened to the long and
dismal night of papal despotism."

"Probably introduced about the commencement of the third century, in
connection with other corruptions." Recall what I read to you from
Origen, born A.D. 185; from Tertullian, who flourished within one
hundred years after the apostles; from Cyprian and the Council of
Carthage; from Augustine and his antagonist, Pelagius, who expressly
said that he had never heard of any one, not even the most impious
heretic, denying baptism to infants.

In contrast with such a passage as the one just read to you, I am
reminded of the host of writers, on our side of the question, who,
almost all of them, make such candid and full concessions, that they
furnish their brethren of the opposite side with many of their arguments
against us. I remember reading a book of "Pædobaptist Concessions,"
containing a formidable array of points yielded by our writers, so that
a common reader might ask, What have you left as the ground of your
belief and practice? But the thought which arose in my mind was,
Notwithstanding all these concessions, they who make them are among the
firmest believers in baptism by sprinkling, and in infant baptism. That
cause must be affluent in proofs, and deeply rooted in the scriptural
convictions of men, which can afford to make such concessions to its
antagonists. These refuse facts, which we afford to others for so large
a part of their foundation, show how broad and sufficient ours must be.

The quotation which I read to you, speaks of Popish tendencies as having
already begun. This is true; and more may be added. In the second
epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul tells us that the mystery of iniquity
was already at work. On the subject of religious days and festivals, the
first Christians very soon began to be superstitious, incorporating
heathen festival days into Christian observances, under the plea of
redeeming and sanctifying them, with some such feelings and reasoning as
that with which people, now, would transfer secular music to
sanctuaries, saying that the enemy ought not to have all the best music.
It is true that this sensuous, and, afterward called, Romish, tendency,
corrupted everything. The pure stream of apostolic doctrine and practice
was like the Moselle, which you saw from the fortress of
Ehrenbreitstein, pursuing its unmingled course distinctly for some
distance in the turbid Rhine, till at last it yields to the general
current. Infant baptism, as we learn from ecclesiastical authorities
with one consent, proceeded from the apostles; yet soon it began to be
practised with many superstitious absurdities; and, moreover,
immersion, making such powerful appeals to the senses, suited the taste
of the age far better than sprinkling, so that not only did it become
the common mode, but the subjects were completely undressed, without any
distinction, to denote the putting off the old man and the putting on of
the new, and the putting away of the filth of the flesh.[5] Public
sentiment finally abolished this practice. After a considerable time
affusion, or sprinkling, returned, and became the prevailing mode,
without any special enactment, or any formal renunciation of the late
mode. The Eastern church, however, retained immersion, while the Greek
and Armenian branches use both immersion and sprinkling for the adult
and child. But the sick and dying were always baptized by sprinkling,
which is sufficient to prove that sprinkling was regarded as equally
valid with immersion. It is natural to say that it was superstitious to
baptize the sick and dying, by sprinkling, if we hold that only
immersion is valid baptism. The sick and dying cannot be immersed; now,
is it superstition for a sick person, giving credible evidence of piety,
to be admitted into the Christian church, and receive the Lord's Supper?
In order to do this properly, the subject must be baptized; hence, we
derive one powerful argument that sprinkling is valid baptism. Our Lord
would never have made the modes of his sacraments so austerely rigid,
that the thousands of sick and feeble persons, ministers in poor health,
climate, seasons of the year, times of persecution and imprisonment, and
all the stress of circumstances to which Christians may be subjected,
should be utterly disregarded, and one inconvenient, and sometimes
dangerous, form, of applying water, be insisted on, inflexibly, as
essential to the introductory Christian rite. If the early Christians
baptized the sick by sprinkling, they of course supposed that it was
valid baptism. If it was valid at all, and in any case, of course it was
Christian baptism, even if other modes were most commonly used.

[Footnote 5: See "Coleman's Ancient Christianity," chap, xix., sec. 12.
He refers to Ambrose, Ser. 20. Chrysostom, Hom. 6. Epistle to Col., &c.,

_Mr. M._ I suppose, then, that you would not object to administer
baptism in any other mode of applying water than sprinkling, or pouring.

_Dr. D._ One mode was, I believe, practised at first; and the New
Testament teaches me that this was affusion. The application of water in
any way, by an authorized administrator, to a proper subject, in the
name of the Trinity, may be valid baptism; but I prefer the New
Testament mode, as I understand it, and am happy to allow others the
same liberty of judgment which I enjoy. It would be an extreme case
which would lead me to administer the ordinance in any other way than by

But, said Mr. D., you began by inquiring respecting the practice of
infant baptism in the early ages. I presume that your mind is settled
with regard to the connection of the practice with God's everlasting
covenant with believers and their offspring. I lately read a statement
of this point, which pleased me much, in the writings of the famous Rev.
Thomas Shepard, the early pastor of the church in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. He says:

"There is the same inward cause moving God to take in the children of
believing parents into the church and covenant, now, to be of the number
of his people, as there was for taking the Jews and their children. For
the only reason why the Lord took in the children of the Jews with
themselves evidently was his love to the parents. 'Because he loved thy
fathers, therefore he chose their seed.' So that I do from hence
believe, that either God's love is, in these days of his Gospel, less
unto his people and servants than in the days of the Old Testament,--or,
if it be as great, that then the same love respects the seed of his
people now as then it did. And, therefore, if then because he loved them
he chose their seed to be of his church, so in these days because he
loveth us he chooseth our seed to be of his church also."

Though the title of the treatise from which I read is called the
Church-Membership of Children, to which expression I have very great
objections, and feel that it has done harm, yet this good man held the
doctrine of infant church-membership in a sense which is free from all
reproach of making people members of the church otherwise than by
regeneration. His belief on this point comes out under the following

"These children may not be the sons of God and his people really and
savingly, but God will honor them outwardly with his name and
privileges, just as one that adopts a youngster tells the father that
if the child carry himself well toward him, when he is grown up to years
he shall possess the inheritance itself; but yet in the meanwhile he
shall have this favor, to be called his son, and be of the family and
household, and so be reckoned among the number of his sons."

One of the chief reasons which brought this excellent man to New
England, was that he could not in Old England enjoy the ordinance of
infant baptism in its purity. Let me read the following, addressed by
him to his little son, who afterward became pastor of the church in
Lynn, Massachusetts, and was a burning and shining light. His words will
show you that he had no superstitious notion about the church-membership
of children, though he represented the common belief at that day, and
that he did not count baptism in infancy a saving ordinance; yet you
will see how he uses it to plead with his son to be reconciled to God.
He writes:

"And thus, after about eleven weekes sayle from Old England, we came to
New England shore, where the mother fell sick of consumption, and you my
child was put to nurse to one goodwife Hopkins, who was very tender of
thee; and after we had been here diverse weekes, on the seventh of
February, or thereabout, God gave thee the ordinance of baptism, whereby
God is become thy God, and is beforehand with thee, that whenever you
shall return to God he will undoubtedly receive thee; and this is a most
high and happy privilege; and therefore blesse God for it. And now,
after this had been done, thy deare mother dyed in the Lord, departing
out of this world into another, who did lose her life by being careful
to preserve thine; for in the ship thou wert so feeble and froward, both
in the day and night, that hereby shee lost her strength, and at last
her life. Shee hath made also many a prayer and shed many a tear in
secret for thee; and this hath bin oft her request, that if the Lord did
not intend to glorify himselfe by thee, that he would cut thee off by
death rather than to live to dishonor him by sin; and therefore know it
that if you shalt turn rebell agaynst God, and forsake God and care not
for the knowledge of him, nor to beleeve in his Son, the Lord will make
all these mercys woes, and all thy mother's prayers, teares, and death,
to be a swift witness agaynst thee at the great day."

The practice of infant baptism, and a belief in what is called the
church-membership of children, surely had no injurious effect upon a
parent who could speak thus to his child. Yet Shepard took as high
ground as any with regard to this subject. He derived appeals from
baptism to his child, which were both encouraging and admonitory in the
highest degree.

O, said Dr. D., what a people the descendants of Abraham might have been
forever, had they kept that covenant of which circumcision was the seal.
Had they remembered only this, and had they adhered to it, "I will be a
God to thee and to thy seed after thee," and had they been a
covenant-keeping people, their peace, as God says to them, would have
been as a river; an endless, inexhaustible tide of prosperity and

And now, if Christian parents will but lay hold on that covenant as they
may, that Abrahamic covenant, still in force for them who are Christ's,
and so Abraham's, seed, and heirs according to the promise, we should
soon see, in family religion, in the early conversion of children, and
in their large Christian culture, those promises of God fulfilled which
have respect to the great increase, chiefly by this means, of his
church in the latter days. This is one thing which makes me love and
prize infant baptism so much; its being an expression and exponent of
parental love, faithfulness, and zeal, in those with whom it is preceded
and followed by the entire consecration of their children to God, their
feelings and conduct toward them agreeing with the covenant made for
them with God.

But, in saying this, let me guard you against the erroneous notion that
infant baptism is primarily a parent's covenant, an expression of his
feelings toward God. No, it is God's covenant, an expression of his
feelings toward the children of believers. That is the chief thing which
gives it value. For, it is not because parents love their children, that
God commands that they be offered in baptism; but because God loves
them, and has promised to be a God to them, as he is to their parents.
People, however, sometimes treat the ordinance as though it were their
act toward God, and not primarily his act toward them. They, therefore,
are liable to use it with far less effect than if they were receiving in
it, and by it, God's own transaction with them and the little child.

_Mr. M._ In thinking of Pagan and Mohammedan nations, lately, at the
Concert of Prayer for Foreign Missions, I was struck with this thought,
how error has been transmitted from father to child, and what an awful
power for evil lies in transmitted family influence, when it is
corrupted. This led me to think whether God did not have this in mind
when, in establishing his church in Abraham, he connected children with
parents in his covenant, and gave a sign and seal to be affixed to their
children as a constant admonition to parental faithfulness. All his
former dealings with the world seem to have failed, because of its great
wickedness,--fire, plagues, good examples, great riches, and power
conferred upon the good; and then he added, as a special means, the
family constitution, and by it he secured a seed to serve him to an
extent sufficient to keep the world from extinction, and to be the
repository and source of divine knowledge. I began to think that, if we
would keep religion from dying out, we must fall in with God's great
plan; for Satan makes use of it, and holds generation after generation
in bondage by means of the family constitution. So I set myself at work
to find out ways by which we might promote family religion; and I could
find no better plan than the old one, of promoting scriptural and
spiritual views of the dedication of children. Then I thought how much
discredit has been cast upon that ordinance, which is intended to be the
great sign and declaration of parental piety and faithfulness; and that
family religion had, proportionably, declined, with the indifference of
Christians to this powerful means of promoting the eminent zeal and
efforts of parents in behalf of their children's spiritual good. Youths
of fifteen to twenty-one years of age are, in a large proportion, the
causes of prevailing wickedness,--Sabbath-breaking, profaneness, and
other things. They need just what the ordinance of baptism, properly
observed and fully carried out by covenanting parents, would do for
them. But, in being present at the formation of new churches, I have
mourned to see that, instead of declaring infant baptism to be the duty
of believers, as was formerly done in our older churches, a compromise
with modern lax views is made, by merely permitting infant baptism,
saying, in the confession of faith, that, "Baptism is the privilege only
of believers and their children."

But the idea of getting up a zeal in favor of infant baptism, or a
public sentiment in the churches which should enforce it as a duty,
seemed to me unprofitable; but it occurred to me, whether something
could not be done to interest Christian parents in the subject, by
showing them the infinite privilege of having God for their God, and the
God of their seed, and then the naturalness and propriety of using an
ordinance to express and to assist it. People need instruction on the
subject; instruction which will commend itself to their Christian
feelings. We cannot legislate them into a spiritual observance of the
Lord's Supper, much less of baptism.

_Dr. D._ No; and I trust that our denominations who practise infant
baptism, will never urge it otherwise than in connection with parental
piety, and as a helper of parental obligations.

_Mr. M._ But ought we not to stir ourselves up with regard to parental
duties? and, if so, must we not necessarily insist on the dedication of
children to God, and upon baptism as the acceptable way of signifying
it, and the powerful means of helping us to perform our duties?

_Dr. D._ Surely we ought; and in doing it we have the satisfaction to
know that we are laboring for something more than to establish a mode
of applying an ordinance. In urging the baptism of children, if we do it
not for the sake of the ordinance, but for the things which it signifies
and promotes, we advance the cause of piety in the parents.

_Mr. M._ Would that some one would blow a trumpet in the churches on
this subject. I do feel that if parents would appreciate the influence
of such a state of heart as would lead them to offer their children to
God in baptism, as an expression of their previous and subsequent views
and feelings toward their children, we should see a new state of things
in the rising generation. How striking it is that the Old Testament
closes with such a passage as that last verse of Malachi. It is the
promontory of the Old Testament, looking across the coming ages,
yearning toward the new dispensation, and, as it were, making signals,
concerning the forerunner of that new era, with those words: "And he
shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of
the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a
curse." May we not conclude that this is God's most acceptable way of
effecting the revival of religion from one period to another?

_Dr. D._ I have no doubt of it.

_Mr. M._ I spoke to our good Deacon Goodenow about it, lately; but he
said he had a great horror of a controversy about baptism, and he was
afraid that, to say much upon this subject, would involve us in one. I
told him that I would not be for reflecting upon other denominations;
that my motto, with regard to them and us, is, "Live, and let live." I
would only appeal to our own people, and encourage them to take up the
subject afresh, in a spiritual manner; that is, to dwell upon the
privilege and duty of being in covenant relations, with our children, to
God, baptism being the ordinance of ratification, and its memorial.

_Dr. D._ Your reference to controversy about baptism makes me think of
one which I listened to in a rail-road station, last winter, while
waiting in a snow-storm, several hours, for the cars. Two students of
divinity, as I took them to be, were discussing their respective tenets
with regard to baptism. I was reading a book, but could not help hearing
what they said. One was decrying infant baptism as a "rag of Popery,"
"the last relic of Rome in Protestantism," "a device of Satan to fill
up the church with unconverted members," and much more to that effect.

His friend, in reply, undertook to give his impressions of immersion. He
spoke of India-rubber bathing-dresses;--a tank in which he saw two or
three men and as many women, one of them a young lady, immersed, to his
apparent disgust;--of Elder some one breaking the ice at some cape on
New Year's Sabbath, and immersing several carriages full of females, who
went back dripping wet, to the carriages, and rode an eighth of a mile
to the vestry;--of several females immersed, in a southern State, going
into a creek with white garments, and with white fillets about their
heads, and coming out yellow; and he asked his fellow whether infant
baptism could be any worse than such things.

_Mr. M._ What did his friend say?

_Dr. D._ O, it was the common talk on both sides, painful and revolting.
I could not help saying to them, as the cars were coming up, and we were
parting, "But, if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be
not consumed one of another."

_Mr. M._ They probably left each other as little convinced of the
opposite opinions, respectively, as when they began.

_Dr. D._ More confirmed and set against each other's views, I have no
question. There has been far too much of this. Ridicule and sarcasm are
Satan's favorite weapons. Good people ought not to use them against each
other, whatever be the temptation. Perhaps, as human nature chooses
variety, and we are differently affected by different presentations of
truth, men must be divided into sects; but intolerance, bigotry,
exclusiveness, in us or in others, cannot stand before the spirit of the
age. We may work better, divided into denominations, forbearing with one
another, and loving one another in Christ, and for his sake.

_Mr. M._ Are you often called upon by persons who are troubled on the
subject of baptism?

_Dr. D._ I do not spend much time in discussing the mode. When a young
person is troubled on the subject, I am always careful, first of all, to
find out whether there is any secret bias, for any reason, toward
another denomination; in which case, I pause at once; for you might
argue forever in vain. There is iron on board the ship, which controls
the needle in the compass. I always make it easy and pleasant for such
to follow their evident inclination and wishes.

_Mr. M._ Are they generally ready to go?

_Dr. D._ No, they say they do not like strict communion; but I cannot
help them. I will not be a sectarian, even for infant baptism.

_Mr. M._ Are you in favor of admitting people to our church who do not
believe in infant baptism?

_Dr. D._ Young people, who say that their minds are not made up on the
subject, or those who have not had their attention directed to it,
cannot be required to signify their cordial assent to it; but it is
enough if they are not opposed. In the case of parents who steadfastly
decline to practise infant baptism, after waiting a proper time to
instruct them, I advise them to join another denomination more in
accordance with their views. We do better to be apart, and it is no
reflection upon either side to say this. A Pædobaptist church ought to
maintain its principles by requiring assent to its standard of faith;
yet, where there is no church of a different denomination, within
convenient distance, I surely would not exclude a child of God from the
Lord's Supper for differences of opinion and practice about baptism. I
would admit, by special vote, to occasional, or even to stated
communion, in such a case.

_Mr. M._ Do you ever re-baptize?

_Dr. D._ Where a person was baptized with water, in the name of the
Trinity, by an authorized person, of any denomination, I would not
re-baptize. The alleged heterodox or immoral character of the
administrator, at the time of baptism, does not invalidate it;
otherwise, one might be baptized many times, and, the administrators
proving unworthy, the subject could never get baptized. Christ would
never let his ordinances depend thus upon uncertainties. Let a person
but recognize his baptism, if performed in infancy, by entering publicly
into covenant with God, and that will be sufficient. I endeavor to show
people how wrong it is to lay undue stress on the ordinance, forgetting
whether they have that which is signified by it, and which alone gives
it value.

_Mr. M._ True, sir, but it has its importance, and stress is to be laid
upon the due observance of it.

_Dr. D._ I mean that where I find the conditions of valid baptism
complied with, I try to turn away the thoughts from any superstitious or
ceremonial dependence upon the sacramental act. You remember the answer
in the catechism to the question, "How do the sacraments become
effectual means of salvation?"

_Mr. M._ How I used to say that, at my mother's knee, with my hands
folded behind me, to keep them still: "The sacraments become effectual
means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth
administer them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of
his spirit in them that by faith receive them."

_Dr. D._ I was thinking, the other day, and not for the first time, by
any means, what a noble man was Paul. He was unwilling that people
should call themselves after him, as their leader, and therefore he was
glad to leave the act of baptizing to his associates. Some, however,
infer from this that he disparages baptism. "Christ sent me not to
baptize, but to preach the gospel." Baptism, in its place, has its
importance, and so has preaching; but whether he should be the baptizer,
or delegate the administration to Silas, or Mark, was not of so much
consequence as that he should preach. How he put things in their right
places, according to their proportions, exalting the great, vital
things, sinking others to their subordinate, though useful, spheres, and
becoming all things to all men to save them. With his contempt of
formalism, I hardly know of a greater trial of patience than he must
have had in consenting to circumcise Timothy. He there shut the
window-shutters, and lighted an exhausted lamp, for a time, though he
knew the sun was up, to gratify some who had not opened their eyes to
the morning. How far from a contentious, ambitious spirit, was he, even
with his intense convictions. There are many good people, in all
communions, who are longing for the time when all the old walls of
separation between true Christians will have as many gates in them, at
least, as heaven has,--on the east three gates, on the north three
gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. But I
rejoice even in our liberty, if we choose to exercise it, of separation,
without molestation, though we lose much good to ourselves, and much
influence, and, in times of general religious interest, it leads to
early discussions about modes and forms. How many times have I seen a
growing attention to religion in a community checked by debates and
discussions as to ordinances.

_Mr. M._ If more pains were taken to instruct our own people as to the
oneness of the ancient and the Christian church, and to show them how
the consecration of children is a part of religion, as reëstablished by
the Most High, it seems to me great good would follow.

_Dr. D._ If you will draw out your thoughts on the subject, and let me
see them, we may prepare something which may be useful. You view the
subject on the popular, practical side. Let us see what the results are
to which you have come.

Having agreed to make the effort at my leisure, I may report hereafter
as to my success. And now I will ask my reader's attention to an
interesting letter, which, on my return home, I found awaiting me.

Chapter Seventh.


   Him first to love, great right and reason is,
     Who first to us our life and being gave;
   And after, when we fared had amisse,
     Us wretches from the second death did save;
     And last, the food of life, which now we have,
   Even He himselfe, in his dear sacrament,
   To feede our hungry soules, unto us lent.

   Then next to love our brethren, that were made
     Of that selfe mould, and that self maker's hand,
   That we;[6] and to the same againe shall fade
     Where they shall have like heritage of land,[7]
     However here on higher steps we stand;
   Which also were with selfe-same price redeemed
   That we;--however of us light esteemed.

   SPENSER.--"_An Hymne of Heavenly Love._"

   ----PRAIRIE,----, 185-.

MY DEAR BROTHER: Here we are, at our journey's end. We have had a most
romantic journey, arriving in health, though wayworn, much of our ride
having been in wagons. My wife says, Give my love to brother, and tell
him of the scene at "the hill Mizar." Your letter, which we found
awaiting us, made her think that you would be deeply interested in the
story. This, by and by.

[Footnote 6: As we.]

[Footnote 7: The grave.]

As we were leaving C., one morning, in the great mail-wagon, a man and
his wife, with an infant in her arms, took seats with us, bound far
beyond our own home. The parents had been delayed by the birth of the
child during the journey from New York. They proved to be truly
excellent people, and they made our journey with them very agreeable.

The father, Mr. Blair, had been greatly tried during his stay at the
hotel where his wife was sick. There was only one church in the village.
The administration of the Lord's Supper occurring while he was there, he
went to avail himself of a stranger's privilege at the table of Christ.
He found, however, that the ordinance was not to be administered till
the afternoon, and, moreover, the hymn-book, and some things in the
sermon, disclosed to him that the church was one which closed its doors
against communicants who had not been baptized by immersion, on
profession of their faith.

He was strongly inclined to partake of the ordinance, without saying
anything respecting his baptism. But, on the whole, he concluded that it
would be respectful to intimate his situation to one of the church,
peradventure they had a rule favorable to such a case as his, or, at
least, had agreed to shut their eyes, and ask no questions, in such

He, therefore, introduced himself to a venerable man, who, he inferred,
was a deacon. He frankly told him who he was, and that he wished to
partake of the Lord's Supper.

The good man said to him, "I am sorry that you said anything about it;
but, so long as you have, I don't see how I can consistently encourage
your partaking of the ordinance."

_Stranger._ On what ground, sir?

_Deacon._ Why, we do not hold you to have been baptized.

_Stranger._ I was baptized in infancy, by believing parents, and have
been a professing Christian fifteen years.

_Deacon._ That is not believers' baptism, as we view it. The Lord's
Supper, in our communion, is for baptized persons only. We hold to no
baptism but by immersion.

_Stranger._ I certainly would not intrude, and I will not ask you to act
inconsistently with your principles. But I am a wayfaring man. I have
not had the opportunity to partake of the Lord's Supper for several
months. The life and health of my wife have been remarkably preserved in
this village. Here is the birthplace of my first-born, a place never to
be forgotten by us. I wish to make a Bethel of it. I wish to come to my
Saviour's table with my thanksgivings, and pay him my vows, which my
lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. I
rejoiced when I heard that this was your sacramental Sabbath.

_Deacon._ Your church would not admit an unbaptized person to the Lord's
table, however much he might plead for admission.

_Stranger._ O, my dear sir, how unfair that reasoning is. This is
placing me on a level with one who rejects baptism. I profess to have
been baptized to the best of my knowledge, and to have fulfilled the
requirements of Christ. Should a man come to our church, and say, I have
reason to believe that I have been baptized, though I cannot bring
evidence to satisfy you, except so far as you have confidence in me, his
case would be parallel with mine. Such a man we would not exclude.

_Deacon._ Perhaps we shall not agree, if we continue to discuss the
point. I am sorry that our rules operate to your inconvenience. We wish
to see everybody on New Testament ground, and we think that the surest
way to bring them there is to stand there ourselves. By departing from
the literal command to immerse, and by baptizing infants, the church of
Christ became corrupted with traditions and human inventions. We are at
the antipodes to all this; we refuse everything which is not in black
and white on the surface of the Bible, and so we are the more consistent

"Considering the day and the occasion," said my friend to us, "I forbore
to argue, or to press the good man by asking him if the 'seventh-day
Sabbath' people had not the advantage of him as to greater consistency
in their Protestantism; or, whether the church-membership of females was
anywhere in black and white on the surface of the Bible. As to his
going to the antipodes, to get clear of Romish principles and practices,
I was strongly tempted to say that, to avoid being one of the acids, it
surely was not necessary, nor best, to become an alkali. But having
often reflected how God uses one and another sect, and its set of
principles and practices, to correct evils, by their sharp antagonism,
and to restore a balance to ecclesiastical disorders by allowing some to
go, for a while, to an opposite extreme, I did not find it in my heart
to inveigh, nor to upbraid. It also seemed good to be in a land of
liberty, where even Christians could, from a sense of duty to Christ, if
they chose, fence out their acknowledged brethren and sisters from their
table. There are great inconveniences, and, now and then, hardships,
resulting from it; but our friends, of course, suppose that greater
good, on the whole, than evil, is the consequence, apart from
considerations of duty. But I know of a congregation, in a small place,
who have had public worship for several years, but have not had the
Lord's Supper administered, because they cannot agree as to terms of

"Well," said I, "tell us what you did in the afternoon."

"In the afternoon," he continued, "I went to meeting, and, when the
ordinance was to be administered, I took a seat in a pew alone. I
watched to see which aisle the good deacon would serve, and concluded to
sit there, so as not to seem clandestinely seeking from another deacon,
who would not know me, my inhibited bread; for I wished to be honorable
in the transaction, and, besides, I desired that my friend should see
me, and, if he had changed his mind, give me the symbols. So I sat where
he would pass, in a pew by myself, but he did not look at me."

"How did it make you feel?" said I.

"In some respects," said he, "I never enjoyed my thoughts more at the
administration of the Supper. I had no feeling of resentment or
ill-will. The exclusion of four fifths of the Christian family from the
Lord's table by one portion of it, for such a reason, seemed to leave me
in such good company, that I said to myself, 'They that be with us are
more than they that be with them.' I rejoiced in Robert Hall, John
Bunyan, and others like them. I thought of that interesting piece in
Bunyan's works, 'Water Baptism no Bar to Communion.' I questioned
whether this church and its sister churches would not hear a mild
reproof from the lips of Christ,--'I was a stranger, and ye took me not
in.' Certainly they could not say with Job, 'If I have eaten my morsel
alone.' Using the table of Christ for a wall or bars against
acknowledged Christians,--that table, that Supper, which, of all places
and scenes, is most suggestive of communion and fellowship,--seemed to
me so great a mistake, that I could not in charity regard it as a sin,
because, as such, it would be so criminal. I always believed, before,
that the mode of baptism was not essential to Christian fellowship; but
that afternoon I saw it, I felt it; I worked out the sum myself, and saw
the demonstration, I felt very happy in belonging to the great host of
God's people who can commune together, however much they differ."

"While I was sitting there alone, put aside, one might say, by my
brothers and sisters, whom I had, as it were, run in so cordially to
meet, one thought came over me, as they were feasting with Christ, which
made me weep. I thought of the possibility of being set aside in the
great day. I said, to myself:

   'I love to meet thy people now,
    Before thy face with them to bow,
      Though vilest of them all;
    But, can I bear the dreadful thought,
    What if my name should be left out
      When thou for them dost call?'"

"This did me good. Yet, while I was sitting there, I seemed to see the
Saviour approach me, with a smile. His look seemed very significant, as
though he would say, 'I understand it.' Those words came to my mind:
'Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and, when he had found him, he
said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and
said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto
him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And
he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.' I surely said and did

"Never before," said he, "had I such views of the condescension and
gentleness of Christ toward us, erring creatures. Here was a church
erring, it seemed to me, in a point which must peculiarly wound the
heart of the Redeemer, whose last discourse with his disciples had this
for its burden, that ye love one another. And yet there were, in that
church, many with whom Christ was communing with a love that seemed to
them unqualified. So he treats us all. I never had a greater flow of
charity toward all my fellow-Christians than on that occasion. I
resolved that I never would be a sectarian in anything, while I also
felt more strongly than ever attached to my own views, and confident of
their truthfulness, and in love with their beauty."

When he had finished his narration, his wife asked me what I thought
with regard to her husband's proceedings. I asked her to state
particularly what she had in mind. She then expressed a doubt whether it
were proper for us to intrude upon fellow-Christians, when we know that
their principles forbid their communing with us. She said that she
remonstrated with her husband, as soon as he told her that the ordinance
was not free to all evangelical Christians, and that she tried to
dissuade him from appearing to obtrude himself. She did not view it as
uncharitableness, but only as a denominational rule.

I asked her what her husband said in self-defence;--for we loved to hear
her conversation.

She said that he turned it off by saying, "Men do not despise a thief,
if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry."

She said that soon they experienced the utmost kindness from the members
of that church, who, learning the occasion of their sojourn in the
village, poured upon them their hospitality. Several wished to remove
her to their dwellings. They had a "Busy Bee," and made up everything in
an infant's wardrobe for her. She opened her travelling-bag, and took
out a white enamelled paper semi-circular box, containing a pin-cushion,
made of straw-colored satin, in the shape of a young moon, with these
words tastefully printed in pins: "Welcome, little stranger!" She held
it up to us in one hand, while with the other she wiped her eyes. Never,
she said, had kindness affected her so much;--she believed that it
hindered her in gaining strength, her feelings were so continually
wrought upon by ingenious devices of loving-kindness. It became known
that the husband had proposed to commune, and what the issue had been.
This only served to make them all the more generous. They felt it
deeply, and bore it as a necessity which they evidently regretted; but,
with much self-respect, they refrained to make any apology, or
explanation; "and, for this," said the wife, "I respected them." There
was one elderly maiden-lady, however, who once was so far excited when
the subject was alluded to, while several of them were sewing in the
wife's room, that, after moving about in her chair, evidently struggling
with her emotions, she ventured at last to say, "O, if I could get hold
of that old fence, how I should love to shake it!" They all smiled; and
one sensible and well-educated woman immediately gave a pleasant turn to
the conversation.

I fully agreed with the wife in her very dignified and proper view of
the whole subject. Is there not something extremely charming in the
highly lady-like sentiments and expressions of a Christian woman, as
contradistinguished from those of a gentleman? He, with all his
urbanity, is apt to show the smallest possible vein of testiness, or, at
least, the clouded look of high-bred sense of honor. It seems to me
there is no power which woman exerts over us, in softening and
humanizing our feelings, more beautiful and effectual, than in her
delicate forbearance and charity in taking the kind view of an
irritating subject, without compromise of principle, but just the view
which reflection, and gentler moods, and the softening hand of time,
invariably present. She arrives at it at once, by intuition; our slow
and phlegmatic sense goes through a process of mistake and
rectification, to reach it.

It occurred to me to test this good lady's feelings a little further, by
reading to her an item from a newspaper, which I had met with in the
cars a few days before, and which I had transferred to my pocket. It had
disturbed my equanimity a little. It was an extract from the annual
circular letter of a conference of ministers to their churches, in one
of the New England States, in 1855, in which mention was made of "the
monstrous and soul-damning heresy of infant baptism."

I asked the lady how we ought to feel at such a demonstration. She said,
"I presume I know how you gentlemen would be likely to feel and act
under the impulse of the moment; but the true way to regard and treat
it, as it seems to me, is, with pertinacious forgetfulness." She would
not let it disturb her feelings; and she quoted George Herbert:

   "Why should I feel another man's mistakes
   More than his sicknesses, or poverty?
   In love I should; but," &c.

Susan said that she was reminded of visits made to her mother's house,
by some who would persuade her mother that she belonged to an
"unbaptized church;" thus seeking to put in fear the children who were
about to make a profession of religion. Her mother replied to these
visitors, that there was far more apprehension in her own mind whether
they themselves were properly baptized, if but one mode is valid.--As to
Mr. Blair's effort to commune at that table, she said that she would
never seek nor receive as a boon from men, that which her Saviour had
purchased for her, and for them, with his own blood.

Our conversation was here interrupted by the exclamation of my wife, "Do
look at that beautiful sight, that cascade, on the hill."

Chapter Eighth.


   How beautiful the water is!
     To me 'tis wondrous fair;
   No spot can ever lonely be,
     If water sparkle there.
   It hath a thousand tongues of mirth,
     Of grandeur, or delight,
   And every heart is gladder made
     When water greets the sight.


   Sweet one! make haste, and know Him too;
     Thine own adopting Father love;
   That, like thine earliest dew,
     Thy dying sweets may prove.


We were about to turn a corner in a defile of the mountains, and a large
perpendicular buttress of the ridge stood out, so as nearly to close up
the road. It presented a surface of about twenty feet directly in front,
as we drove up, and, from the top, which was nearly a hundred and twenty
feet from the ground, a cascade fell into the air for about forty feet,
and, without touching anything, became dishevelled, and disappeared in

It was one of the most beautiful objects which I ever saw. It was pure
white, relieved against the wet and very black rock. It waved to and fro
in the air like a streamer; it had a slow pulse, lifting it and letting
it drop, like the appearance of a waterfall seen from the window of a
car in motion, only this was irregular and quite slow; it was soft and
fleecy; it made no audible noise; it looked dangerous to see it fall
from so great a height; but it was caught in the air, to your relief, as
one who falls in his dream lights upon his soft bed. The lines of Gray,
in his Bard, were suggested by the sight of this mountain, though not by
any close resemblance:

   "Loose his beard; his hoary hair
   Streamed like a meteor to the troubled air."

The ladies had other images suggested by it. One said, "It is a
beautiful hand, waving Godspeed to us on our journey." That brought
tears into the eyes of some of us, reminding us so of meetings and
partings at home, and chording well with our pilgrim condition. We
concluded to make response; and we tarried there.

The rock seemed to be full of water, oozing out from the seams, dripping
over rich mosses, with jets, here and there, leaping into the light with
a bound of a few inches, and quietly expiring among the thick
weather-stains and lichens, as if satisfied with their brief existence.
The little things made me think of the sweet souls of infants passing
into time, and then immediately out of it. As we listened, we heard what
Addison describes in his version of the twenty-third Psalm:

   "And streams shall murmur all around."

The ladies took off their bonnets, and we our hats, and we stood under
the cascade, looking up, and feeling, or fancying that we felt, the cool
spray on our heads and faces. We drank of the rock, and we thought of
that Rock which followed Israel. It seemed good to have such an image of
Jesus as such a rock, with the strength of the hills in it, and with its
inexhaustible springs, its beautiful entablature, its cool shadow,
following a company through a desert. What thoughts and feelings did it
give us respecting our adorable Immanuel, God with us. Dear Susan,
looking up, said, "Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I."

After invoking the blessing of God, and refreshing ourselves from our
little store, our friends wandered away by themselves, and left us to
enjoy the opportunity for prayer, which we supposed they also sought in
withdrawing from us.

As they returned, the father had the little boy on his two hands, and,
approaching me, he looked up to the cascade, and said, "'See, here is
water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?'"

I was at no loss to understand the quotation and the request.

"Would you like to have the little one baptized here?" said I.

"We should," they both exclaimed. "We are going into a destitute place
at the West, and there is no church, you tell us, within several miles
of where we expect to live. It is very uncertain about our being able to
procure baptism for the child there; and where could we enjoy the
ordinance more, or make it more impressive upon our hearts, than here,
so long as we have no house of God, which we remember, however, from
'the hill Mizar'?"

I told them that the experience of Philip and the eunuch, in the desert,
was, just as likely as not, the same as ours. "See, here is water." The
probability of its being a road-side spring, in a rock, or out of the
earth, was greater than of its being a pool in the desert, large enough
to immerse a man in it, leaving out of view the inconveniences of being
bathed along the way. We have both gone "down out of the chariot," said
I--(you would have smiled to see our great, strong, muddied wain)--and
we have done what the literal Greek says they did, "went down _to_ the
water;" and when we start, we shall "come up _from_ the water." But let
us read 'the place of the Scripture' which the eunuch was reading when
Philip joined him.

Susan took from her bag the blue velvet-covered Bible, which you gave
her, unclasped it, and turned to the fifty-second chapter of Isaiah, at
my request, and began to read. O, how soft and sweet was the sound of a
female voice, repeating words of inspiration in that beautiful, solitary
spot! The Scriptures had not been divided into chapters and verses for
the eunuch, as for us, but we noticed that the last verse of the chapter
preceding "the place of the Scripture which he read," not divided from
it in his copy of Isaiah, was, "So shall he sprinkle many nations;"
which, we thought, proved that the eunuch had had the idea of baptism
suggested to him by those words; and quite as conclusively proving it,
as "buried with him in baptism" proves immersion.

However, being agreed on all these points, we made no long discourse
about them, but dwelt upon the Son of God as the Redeemer of Abraham's
seed, and in whom all the promises of God, including those made to
Abraham, are yea, and in him amen.

I said to my friends, "The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are about to
write their several and joint names on this child's forehead.

"As a lamb has the owner's mark upon his side, this child is to be
claimed by them, to be brought up for the service and glory of its
redeeming God.

"You are to give him away, to be disposed of by the Most High. You are
to be, for Him, what the mother of Moses was for Pharaoh's
daughter--nurses to your own child. This dear child lay helpless and
exposed, with all of us, to destruction; the Redeemer passed that way;
he heard its cries: he had compassion upon it; he saved it from the
condemning sentence of divine justice; and now he calls you, and says,
'Take this child, and bring it up for me, and I will give thee thy
wages.' He does not commit the child to church, nor pastor, nor
Sabbath-school, but to its own father and mother, who may and will avail
themselves of all the appointed and the useful helps for its nurture and
admonition in the Lord; but he looks to you, as having the chief and
principal responsibility, to bring up this child for God.

"You covenant to lay your plans for this child, so that he may, by the
surest means, live for God. To this end you will pray with him and for
him; teach him what was done for him in baptism, and before, and
afterwards; how God was beforehand with him, and was found of him who
sought him not. He is to be trained up as a Christian child, with a view
to his early conversion, and your great concern is not to be, how he may
promote his private happiness, or yours, but how he may best serve God.

"To this end, you will, from the first, watch over all his moral
faculties, and instil into him the principles of truth and uprightness;
not letting him run loose among the vanities of the world, and feed
upon its miserable, corrupted sentiments, and choose worldly and godless
persons for his intimate associates, his manners and his habits being
like a garden which runs to weeds, and his whole nature left to the
perils of sin, trusting to some sudden act of conversion to bring him
right; but you will rather be diligent to 'fill the water-pots with
water,' and wait for Christ to turn it into wine. You intend, and you
promise, that you will educate this child from the beginning with all
that strictness of Christian principle which you would expect of him
were he, in his infancy, to be a professing Christian, his duty being
the same, and, consequently, yours toward him, whether he is regenerate
or not,--one and the same law of God being our rule, irrespective of

"In all times of sickness and peril, you are to feel that this child is
the Lord's, to be disposed of by him, without consulting you. If called
to die and leave him, you will remember that you received him from God,
that he belonged to God at first, and when he was placed in your care;
and that God, who thus has the most perfect claim to him, will perfect
that which concerns him, even if his parents are in the grave.

"And while you thus covenant with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
covenant with you, and with the child through you, to be the God of your
seed, affording you special help in training the child, bestowing
special blessings upon it tending to its spiritual good, having a
particular regard for it as something lent to him, and belonging to you;
while, in another sense, it is lent to you, and belongs to him; and he
and you are to regard the child agreeably to this beautiful
transmutation of ownership and loan. The baptism itself cannot save the
child, any more than the Lord's Supper can save you; but it is among the
first of means to promote the salvation of the child, not merely through
its effect on you, or its remembered grace and goodness when the child
can be made to appreciate it; but above all, and through all, and in
all, it seals that covenant of a covenant-keeping God, assisting your
efforts and those of the child,--that promise, I say, 'I will be his
God, and he shall be my son.'"

We named the little boy, PHILIP, as a memorial of the road-side baptism.
We stood under the shadow of that great rock, and worshipped Abraham's
God. "Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us,
and Israel acknowledge us not." The voice of prayer was joined by chimes
and symphonies from trickling rills, and the freshening breeze in a
silver-leaved maple, leaning at an angle of thirty-five degrees, just
above us in the rock, all as quiet as the dear infant's breathing;
while, now and then, the sudden flapping and rushing of birds' wings
made the monotone around us more soothing.

From a little jet of water, that formed an arc of about an inch, as it
burst into life and then disappeared in a great moss-bed, I caught my
palm full, and laid it upon the unconscious head.

The little hands were suddenly lifted and dropped, as though a slight
shock had been experienced, then a smile played round the mouth, and the
sleep seemed deeper.

And will God in very deed dwell on earth? Will the adorable Trinity be
present at such a scene as this? Present! "All power is given unto me in
heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
He will not appoint this ordinance, and fail to be present; the God of
redemption is a party to that transaction by which an immortal soul,
with an existence commensurate with his own, is consecrated to him by
its natural guardians, acting in the place of God, and for the child,
and joining them in covenant.

"Shall we ever forget this?" said the husband to his wife, as we were
riding along that beautiful afternoon.

"Never," said she; but she added, sensible woman as she was, "the beauty
and sentiment of the place seemed to me nothing, compared with the
privilege of covenanting with God, and having him covenant with us for
the child. After all," said she, "I would have been glad to have had the
baptism in our little church at home, and to have secured good Mrs.
Maberry's prayers, and those of our church, for the child, at its
baptism. I must write to her, and get her to tell the Maternal
Association about it, and ask them not to forget little Philip."

"What would you have named it," said my wife, "had it been a girl?"

"O," said she, smiling, "I was thinking on the hill, that, if it had
been a girl, I should have called it Candace, for the Ethiopian queen."

"And Canda, for shortness and sweetness, I suppose," said her husband,
his eyes twinkling and sparkling with love, as he looked at her, and
from her upon us.

"He's a sweet little thing, you know he is," said the mother, burying
her face in the child's bosom, and giving it something between a good
long smell and a good long kiss, or both; a thing which mothers alone
know exactly how to do.

"Suppose," said I, "that, instead of little Philip, it had been you,
sir, and Mrs. Blair, who had needed to be baptized.

"Here you are, on a journey. You do not know that you will be able to
avail yourselves of religious ordinances, in your new home, for a long
time to come; and, besides, regarding baptism not merely as a profession
of religion, but as an act of Almighty God, sealing you with his
appointed sign of the covenant, you have strong desires to receive it,
here in this 'way unto Gaza, which is desert,' from my hands.

"'See, here is water,' in rich abundance. But, alas! there is no pond,
nor pool, no lake, nor river!"

"Even if there were," said my wife to Mrs. Blair, "I should shudder to
have you venture into untried waters, in this lonely place. Fear, at
least, would prevent any peace of mind, or satisfying enjoyment."

"'What doth hinder me to be baptized?' you would properly say to me," I
continued. "'O,' my reply could be, 'the water is not in an available
shape. Had we time to scoop out a tank in the earth, or make a stone
baptistery in the rock, then you might be 'buried with him by baptism
into death.' But it is impossible. This living fountain of waters in the
mountain, full and overflowing though it be, does not allow of Christian
baptism. Besides, as to suitable apparel, and all the necessary
arrangements for comfort, not to say propriety,--you see that baptism,
here is out of the question.'"

"Do you think," said Mrs. Blair, "that the Head of the church has
appointed any such invariable mode of administering baptism,--one that
cannot be applied in numerous cases?"

I said to her, "I cannot believe it. The genius of Christianity seems
opposed to it. Let all who will, use immersion; we love them still, and
rejoice in their liberty, but I cannot agree that it was the New
Testament method. Even had it been, I should expect that the rule would
be flexible enough to meet cases of necessity."

"I was thinking," said Mr. Blair, "that, at least, four fifths of all
the people of God have gone to heaven unbaptized, if immersion is the
only valid mode of baptism. This is rather a serious thing, if the
solemn words, 'He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved,' look
only to baptism by immersion. It seems to me," he added, "that the
providence of God would have brought in some great reformation from so
calamitous an error in the church, if it were an error. Some Luther, or
Calvin, or Knox, or some John Baptist, would have been raised up, as in
other emergencies, to bring the church back to her duty."

"How clearly," said I, "does that seem to prove that all the people of
God have, as Paul says, 'One Lord, one faith, one baptism,' however
variant their modes of worship and administration may be."

"How many baptized children, from Christian families," said my wife,
"are gathered together in heaven! I cannot think of them as the
unfortunate subjects of a superstitious or corrupt observance, at the
hands of the ministers of Jesus, in all ages of the world. There must
seem to them, as they increase in knowledge, a beautiful fitness in
their having had those adorable names inscribed upon them, with God's
own initiatory seal of his covenant. What loving-kindness it must appear
to them, that God gave them the ordinance of baptism, and became their
God! How it will stand out before their minds as a principal
illustration of being saved by grace!"

"And then, again," said Mr. Blair, "think of the millions of children in
heaven who were not baptized,--saved, the most of them, from heathen and
pagan lands. How 'the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ,
hath abounded unto many.' Baptism is not an austere law. There is
nothing austere or rigid, in any sense, connected with it; but it makes
me think of the water itself, scattered in so many beautiful and pliable
forms all over the earth, in fountains, water-falls, dew, rain-drops;
and, when it cannot 'stand before His cold,' it comes down softly upon
us, in crystal asteroids and all the geometrical forms of snow. I love
to think that God has associated that beautiful element, the water, with
religion. And now it does not seem accordant with the works and ways of
Him, of whom we say, 'How great is his goodness, how great is his
beauty,' to make one obdurate mode of bringing the water in connection
with us essential to an ordinance, whose element seems everywhere to
shun preciseness."

"Water is certainly a beautiful emblem of open communion," said one of
the ladies. "It must be conscious, one would think, of violence done to
its ubiquitous nature, to be made the occasion of separating beloved
friends, at the Table whose symbolized Blood has made them one in

But we had to part. I told them that my wife and I would certainly be
sponsors for little Philip, in the best sense; we would make a record of
its history, thus far, among our family memorials; tell our children
about him, and charge them in after life to inquire for him, and lose no
opportunity of doing him good. Though, as to that, I could not help
saying, no one knows in this world who will be benefactor or

"Our children will always be interested in each other," said his wife,
"for their parents' sake."

"Can we not sing a hymn?" said the husband.

We found that our voices made a quartet. Susan was ready with her
beautiful contralto, Mrs. Blair sung the soprano, Mr. Blair the tenor,
and I the base.


      "Lord, what our ears have heard,
        Our eyes delighted trace--
      Thy love, in long succession shown,
        To Zion's chosen race.

      "Our children thou dost claim,
        And mark them out for thine;
      Ten thousand blessings to thy name
        For goodness so divine.

      "Thee, let the fathers own,
        And thee, the sons adore,
      Joined to the Lord in solemn vows,
        To be forgot no more.

      "Thy covenant may they keep,
        And bless the happy bands
      Which closer still engage their hearts,
        To honor thy commands.

      "How great thy mercies, Lord!
        How plenteous is thy grace!
      Which, in the promise of thy love,
        Includes our rising race.

      "Our offspring, still thy care,
        Shall own their fathers' God;
      To latest times thy blessings share,
        And sound thy praise abroad."

We saw them and their baggage on board the wagon that was to take them
over to the river; we waved our farewell, and sent our kisses; and, just
as they were turning a corner which hid them from our view, the father
stood up in the wagon, and held little Philip as high as he could (the
mother, of course, reaching up her arms to hold them both fast), as
though to catch the last benediction. The long, flowing white dress of
the child gave the picture a waving, vanishing effect, reminding us of
our first sight of the cascade, which, with the whole transaction to
which it gave occasion, has taken a permanent place in our sleeping and
waking dreams.

Chapter Ninth.


   Go, now, ye that are men, and serve the Lord.--PHARAOH.

   We will go with our young, and with our old, with our sons, and with our

   Hosanna to the Son of David.--THE CHILDREN IN THE TEMPLE.

   The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be
   established before thee.--PSALM 102:28.

The reader will now be introduced, in imagination, to a seat in the
window of a country parsonage, with honeysuckle-vines trained over an
arched lattice-work that spans the window. There are several large
maples in the yard, which is a grass-plot, where six gentlemen are
enjoying pleasant conversation, and are seated at their ease, some in
chairs, and the rest on a sofa, which, at the suggestion of a kind lady,
they had lifted from its place in the parlor to the yard.

They are all of them pastors of churches, met, for social intercourse
and friendly counsel, at the house of one of their number, with their
wives, who are also together by themselves, in a pleasant room on the
north side of the house, and into whose sayings and doings these
husbands will, no doubt, be disposed to make, in due time, suitable

Those wonderful little elves, the humming-birds, are frequent visitors
to those honeysuckles, under which I have placed my reader to be a
listener. How many vibrations those little wings make in a minute, how
so long a bill can have subtractive force sufficient to get anything
from the flower, how, when obtained, that product is conveyed to the
throat, and where these creatures build their nests, and whither they
migrate, are questions which will, perhaps, divert attention from
everything else for a time, especially if the reader has escaped for a
season from a large city, and is one of those who there "dwell in
courts." Perhaps, therefore, he will choose to refresh himself, in
silent contemplation, in this arbor; and I will make true report of all
that transpires in the yard.

One of these pastors, Mr. A., has been reading to his brethren, for
their judgment as to the soundness of his views, a sermon, not yet
preached, on the relation of baptized children to the church. We will
call him, and two of the ministers who agreed with his views, by their
initials, respectively, which consisted of the first three letters of
the alphabet; while the three who dissented from them had, as initials
to their names, letters remote from these. Neither Messrs. A., B., and
C., nor Messrs. R., S., and T., had had any previous concert or
comparison of views on this interesting subject; but they found
themselves thus arrayed on different sides of the question.

Omitting the sermon that gave occasion to the discussion which follows,
a few lines only will put us in possession of the whole subject. I give
the opening paragraph:

"It is held by all who practise infant baptism, that the children of
believers have a peculiar relation to the church. That relation is very
generally expressed by the word membership. We have treatises, by the
most orthodox divines, on the church-membership of the children of
believers; which children they freely call members of the Christian
church; and, in catechisms and confessions of faith, the church of
Christ is declared to consist of such as are in covenant relations with
God, and their offspring."

The sermon being finished, Mr. R. was first called upon by the chairman,
Mr. C., for his remarks. The question, as stated by the chairman, was,
Are the children of believers, in any sense, members of the church? If
so, what is it? and, if not, what relation to the church do they

_Mr. R._ I presume that brother A. does not wish us to take up time with
criticisms upon his style. He seeks to know our views with regard to the
subject of the sermon. I am compelled to say, at once, that I differ
from the views expressed by the reader, if he means by the terms,
_members_ and _membership_, which he employs, all which they would
convey to the majority of hearers. But I noticed that when he, and those
excellent men whom he quotes, come to define what they mean by members,
and membership, in this connection, they make explanations, and
qualifications, and also protestations, showing that no one can be, in
their view, a member of the spiritual, or, what is called the invisible,
church of Christ, without repentance and faith. Rightly understood,
therefore, they are free from any just imputation of making unscriptural
terms of membership in the kingdom of Christ. And, perhaps, when those
of us who dissent from some of their propositions, fully understand the
limitations which the writers themselves affix to their use of terms, no
great discrepancy will be found to exist.

It admits of a question, therefore, in my view, whether the terms
_members_ and _membership_, as applied to children, really mean that
which these writers themselves intend to convey by them; for certainly
they do not mean all which their readers at first suppose. The terms in
question require a great deal of explanation, which a term, if possible,
ought never to need. And, after all has been said, a wrong impression is
conveyed to the minds of many, while opponents gain undue advantage in
arguing against that which, for substance, all the friends of infant
baptism cordially maintain.

If Br. A. is asked, "In what sense are children members of the church,"
he resorts, for illustration, to citizenship, and to the sisterhood in
the church itself, to show how children and females may be members of
the community, and, in the case of females, may belong to the church,
while yet their privileges and functions are limited. So, he says, the
children of believers are a component part of God's church, not entitled
to the use of all its privileges till they are renewed by the Spirit of
God, yet so related by the sovereign appointment of God to those who are
members, as to be, in a subordinate sense, a part of the church.

Could the friends of infant baptism agree on some term, which would
express their common belief with regard to the relation of believers'
children to the church, better than _member_, I think it must have a
happy effect in promoting harmony of views and feelings, and take away
from others the grounds of several present objections.

It was here agreed that, instead of the question going round to each in
turn, the conversation should be free, subject to the rule of the

Mr. A., the reader, then said that he should be glad to learn from his
Br. R. precisely what his views were of the relation of baptized
children to the church. "Let us see," he said, "how far we are agreed as
to the actual nature of this relation."

"Well, then," said Mr. R., "I will begin with this:

"_They are the children of God's friends_. We all know how God reminds
Israel of their relation to Abraham, his friend, tells them they are
beloved for the fathers' sakes, and he remembers his covenant with those
friends of his, their fathers, when provoked by the children's sins.
Toward the child of one who loves God (not merely a church-member, but a
friend of God), I suppose there are affections on the part of God, of
which our own feelings toward the child of a dear Christian friend are a
representation. This love to the child of his friend, I always thought,
is the great element in that arrangement of the Most High which we call
the Abrahamic covenant; for he who made us, knew how much a love for our
children, on the part of others, draws us together, and what bonds are
constituted and strengthened between men through their children; and
that one great means of promoting love to Him would be, his manifesting
special love and care for the offspring of those who love him. God has a
people, friends; and the children of such are the children of his
dearly-beloved friends. In this we are all agreed."

"Certainly," said Mr. A., "but you will go further than this, I

_Mr. R._ Yes, Mr. Chairman. One thing more is true of them:

_They are the principal source of the church's increase_. The selection
of Abraham, with a view to make of his lineage, the banks, within whose
defensive influences grace should find helps in making its way in this
ungodly world, had reference, I believe, to that power of hereditary
family influence, which has not ceased, and will not cease, to the end
of time. It is beautiful and affecting to see that recognition of our
free agency, and that unwillingness ever to interfere with it, which
leads the Most High to fall in with the principles of our nature
established by himself, in placing his chief reliance on the natural
love of parents for their offspring to contribute, by far, the larger
part of those who shall be converted. In this arrangement and
expectation do we not find the deep roots of infant baptism? which thus
appears to be neither Jewish nor Gentile, but grows out of our nature
itself, which also requires, which demands, some rite, a symbolic sign
and seal. God made the children of Adam partakers with him of his curse;
so that the parental and filial relation was, from the beginning made a
stream to bear along the consequences of the first transgression. No
new thing, therefore, was instituted when God, in calling Abraham,
appointed the parental and filial relation to bear, on its deep and
mighty stream, the most powerful means of godliness in all coming
generations. How little do we think of this, Mr. Chairman, and brethren;
how apt we are to neglect this great arrangement of divine providence
and grace,--the perpetuation of the church, chiefly by means of the
parental and filial relation. But, if such be the divine appointment,
and the children of believers are therefore the most hopeful sources of
the church's increase, of course they may be said to belong to the
church, in a peculiar sense, but without being "_members_."

_Mr. A._ I think you are coming on very well toward my ground. I
certainly agree with you thus far.

_Mr. R._ If I am not taking up too much time, Mr. Chairman, I should
like to proceed a little further, in order to do full justice to my
views. If I am found to agree with Br. A., it will be just as pleasant
as though he agreed with me.

_Chairman._ Please to proceed. Two things which are equal to the same
thing, are equal to each other.

_Mr. R._ I will, then, say, once more:

_The children of believers are the subjects of preeminent privileges and
blessings._ Special promises are made to them from love to their
parents; great advantages are theirs, directly and indirectly, from
their relation to those who are the true worshippers of God;
forbearance, long suffering, the remembrance of consecrations and vows,
prevail with God, oftentimes, in their behalf when they have broken
their father's commandment and forsaken the law of their mother. No
words of tenderness, in any relation of life,--said Mr. R., turning to
the Psalms,--surpass those, in which are described the feelings of God
toward the rebellious sons of Abraham: "But he, being full of
compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not; yea, many a
time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath." "For
he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham his servant." God still
remembers Abraham, his servant, in the person of every father and mother
who loves him, and is steadfast in his covenant; and "the generation of
the upright shall be blessed." Mistakes in family government, growing
out of wrong principles, too great reliance upon future conversion, and
the neglect of that moral training which is essential to the best
development of religious character, and, indeed, without which religious
character is often a melancholy distortion, or sadly defective, may be
followed by their natural consequences; and we cannot complain,--for God
works no miracle, nor turns aside any great law, in favor of our
misconduct; yet it remains true that all who love and serve him, and
command their children and households to fear the Lord, enforcing it in
all the proper ways of government, discipline, example, and the right
observance of religious ordinances, public and private, may expect
peculiar blessings upon their offspring.

One of the youngest of the company, the father of one young child, here
inquired, if the speaker would have us infer that the conversion of such
children is to be looked for as a matter of course.

_Mr. R._ Ordinarily, they will grow up in the nurture and admonition of
the Lord, to be followers of Christ; the proportion of persons baptized
on admission to the church, will become small; a healthful tone of
religious feeling will pervade our churches; less and less reliance will
be placed on startling measures, on splendid talents, on novelties, to
promote the cause of religion; but Christian families will extend like
the cultivated fields of different proprietors, whose green and
flowering hedges, instead of stone walls, mingle all into one landscape.
"And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of
righteousness, quietness and assurance forever." "And my people shall
dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet
resting-places." "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and
great shall be the peace of thy children." Such, I believe, is sure to
be the manner of the church's prosperity, and therefore the children who
are to be the subjects of these inestimable blessings must be said, in
some sense, to _belong_ to the church, they being the objects of special
regard with the church and with God. Br. A. agrees with me in all this,
I presume.

_Mr. A._ Entirely; or, rather, you agree with me.

"Now, Br. A.," said an earnest man of the company,--who, however,
immediately checked himself, and bowed to Mr. R., and said, "I dare say,
Mr. Chairman, that Br. R. was going to put the very question which I
intended to ask."

_Mr. R._ Proceed, Br. S. I owe an apology for speaking so much.

_Mr. S._ Will Br. A., Mr. Chairman, please to tell us why he feels
obliged to call these children "_members_ of the church?"

For, we all know, that, notwithstanding all these glorious things, which
are spoken of them, to which Br. A. has also referred, not one baptized
child of a true believer can be, really, a member of the church, in
regular standing, till he, like the unbaptized heathen convert, has
repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus. All the promises
and privileges appertaining to his relationship as a child of a
believer, promote, and make more certain, his repentance and faith; and
therefore, if asked, "What profit, then, hath circumcision, and its
substitute, infant baptism?" we can reply, "Much every way;" but it
never stood, and never can stand, in the place of justification by free
grace through the personal exercise of faith in the Redeemer.

_Mr. C._ But I wish to ask, in the name of Br. A., and for my own sake,
what objection there is to retaining the name, _member_, in this

_Mr S._ My answer is, it is the occasion of great stumbling to those who
reject infant baptism, and are confirmed in rejecting it, by
misapprehending the views and feelings of many who use the term in an
objectionable sense.

The discussion now became animated. Mr. S. said that he had a further
objection. It leads many, who use it erroneously, into perplexing and
fruitless positions. Assuming that the children are members of the
church, they discuss the question, as the sermon has stated, Of what
church are they members? Some reply, Of the church to which their
parents belong. Others say nay, but of the church universal. Then they
feel it incumbent upon them to provide some means of discipline for
these so-called members. In case they grow up, and neglect to come with
their parents to the Lord's Supper, must they not be disciplined? Some
insist that discipline, in some of its forms, must be administered, and,
in certain cases, excommunication must take place.

_Mr. T._ I know it, and I wonder at it. I should like to ask, who has
deputed to any church the power to say when the divine forbearance with
a child of the covenant has come to an end? Does it terminate at the age
of twenty-one in the case of male children, and at eighteen in the case
of females? David, when a full-grown man, plead the covenant of God with
his mother: "O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the
son of thine handmaid." Or, does it cease on the child's leaving the
parental roof for another place of residence? Or, on entering upon the
married state? Or, upon the commission of some great act of outward
transgression, shall we pronounce the covenant to be dissolved? Do we
not see that we are meddling with a divine prerogative, if we assume to
act in such cases? Expostulations, warnings, entreaties, from parents,
pastor, brethren of the church, may always be in place; but further than
these we cannot proceed.

"Perhaps, too," said Mr. R., "if discipline were to fall anywhere, it
might more justly descend on the parents of such a child."

_Mr. T._ The seeming mockery of a church punishing a youth for the
neglect of that which he himself never promised to do, would most
likely have the effect to drive him to a returnless distance from the
church, extinguishing the last ray of hope as to his conversion. A fit
parallel to such proposed church-discipline of children, is found in the
practice, which was not uncommon, twenty-five years ago, in a region of
our country where great religious excitements prevailed for some time,
when it was publicly recommended, in preaching and from the press, that
parents who had labored in vain for the conversion of children, should,
in certain cases, punish them, to make them submit to God.

_Mr. D._ Is it possible?

_Mr. T._ Yes, sir; and the records of those times furnish instances in
which this was done. Of such means of grace, I am happy to say, we have
no such custom, neither the churches of God.

_Mr. S._ Nor shall we probably ever see young people disciplined by the
churches, for not repenting and believing the Gospel. It is insisted on
as theoretically proper, but they have never ventured to carry it out in

Mr. C., the chairman, said, "Brethren, there is strong authority in
favor of the sermon. Since you have been talking, I have been looking
over Dr. Hopkins's works, to find this passage, which, if you please, I
will read. Dr. Hopkins says:

"Though under the milder dispensation of the Gospel, no one is to be put
to death for rejecting Christ and the Gospel, even though he were before
this a member of the visible church, yet he is to be cut off, and cast
out of the visible kingdom of Christ. And every child in the church, who
grows up in disobedience to Christ, and, in this most important concern,
will not obey his parents, is thus to be rejected and cut off, after all
proper means are used by his parents, and the church, to reclaim him,
and bring him to his duty. Such an event will be viewed by Christian
parents as worse than death, and is suited to be a constant, strong
motive to concern, prayer, and fidelity, respecting their children, and
their education; and it tends to have an equally desirable effect upon
children, and must greatly impress the hearts of those who are in any
degree considerate and serious."

Again: "When the children arrive at an age in which they are capable of
acting for themselves in matters of religion, and making a profession of
their adherence to the Christian faith, and practice, and coming to the
Lord's Supper, if they neglect and refuse to do this, and act contrary
to the commands of Christ in any other respect, all proper means are to
be used, and methods taken, to bring them to repentance, and to do their
duty as Christians, and, if they cannot be reclaimed, but continue
impenitent and unreformed, they are to be rejected and cast out of the
church, as other adult members are who persist in disobedience to

[Footnote 8: Hopkins's Works (1852), vol. ii., pp. 158, 176.]

"Such words, from such a source," said Mr. C., "are entitled to great

"But," said Mr. S., "here is a passage from his own theological
instructor, President Edwards:

"It is asked,' he says, 'why these children, that were born in the
covenant, are not cast out when, in adult age, they make no profession.'
He replies, 'They are not cast out, because it is a matter held in
suspense whether they do cordially consent to the covenant or not; or
whether their making no profession does not arise from some other cause;
and none are to be excommunicated without some positive evidence against

"My dear sir," said Mr. A., "Mr. Edwards is there speaking of those who
merely refuse to own the covenant, without being guilty of scandalous

_Mr. S._ It is evident, nevertheless, that Hopkins goes further than he,
and requires that those who, at years of full responsibility, refuse to
own the covenant, shall be cut off. Modern writers on this subject,
while insisting on the church-membership of children, draw back from
this position, and are more in harmony with what, it seems to me, may be
said to be the general sense of the churches on this subject. I feel
glad, when reading such passages as those from Hopkins, that we have
liberty of opinion, and are not compelled to swear by the words of any
master. I bow to such a divine as Dr. Hopkins, but he fails to satisfy
me that he is right in these views of church-discipline for children.

Mr. R., who was the oldest man of the company, now returned to the
discussion, and said: "It is clear that one cannot be dispossessed of
that which he never possessed, except as in the case of a minor, who may
have his claim to a future possession wrested from him. Of what is a
child of the covenant, allowing him to be, while a child, a member of
the church,--of what is he in possession? Not of full communion, not of
access to the Lord's table, not of the right to a voice in the call and
settlement of a pastor, nor in any other church act. From what, then, is
he turned out by being cut off? He has never arrived at anything from
which he can be separated, except the covenant of God with him through
his parents, and its attendant privileges of watch and care. If, then,
we excommunicate an unconverted child, we can only declare the covenant
of God with him, henceforth, to be null and void,--an assumption from
which, probably, Christian parents and ministers would shrink. The same
long-suffering God, who bears and forbears with ourselves, we shall be
disposed to feel, is the God of this recreant child, and no good man
would dare to pronounce the child to be separated from the mercies of
'the God of patience and hope.' One who, being in a church, breaks a
covenant to which he assented, may be a just subject for discipline,
even to excommunication; but, all the promises of God to the child being
wholly free, conditioned, at first, upon his parents' relation to God,
all the disability which the child seems capable of receiving, is, that
the promises made to him he must fail, by his own fault, to receive.
Who will declare even his prospect of their fulfilment to be terminated
at any given time? Much more, who will undertake to divest him of things
which he never had? The church-membership, from which you profess to
expel him, does not yet exist in his case; he has not reached it. All
the church-membership of which, if any, he has been possessed, is, his
hopeful relation to God and his people through a parent. To
excommunicate a child from this would be a strange procedure."

_Mr. A._ That is the strongest thing which I have heard on that side. I
must confess (said he, rising and leaning against one of the maples)
that I am a little staggered.

But Mr. B. came to reinforce his faltering brother.

"Here," said he, "is the Cambridge Platform. You will all be willing to
hear from that source."

"Let us hear," said two or three voices.

Mr. B. read as follows:

"The like trial (examination) is to be required from such members of the
church as were born in the same, or received their membership, and were
baptized in their infancy or minority, by virtue of the covenant of
their parents, when, being grown up unto years of discretion, they shall
desire to be made partakers of the Lord's Supper; unto which, because
holy things must not be given to the unworthy, therefore it is requisite
that these, as well as others, should come to their trial and
examination, and manifest their faith and repentance by an open
profession thereof before they are received to the Lord's Supper, and
otherwise not to be admitted thereunto. Yet those church-members that
were so born, or received in their childhood, before they are capable of
being made partakers of full communion, have many privileges which
others, not church-members, have not; they are in covenant with God,
have the seal thereof upon them, namely, baptism; and so, if not
regenerated, yet are in a more hopeful way of attaining regenerating
grace, and all the spiritual blessings both of the covenant and seal;
they are also under church-watch, and consequently subject to the
reprehensions, admonitions, and censures thereof, for their healing and
amendment, as need shall require."[9]

[Footnote 9: Cambridge Platform, chap. iii. 7.]

_Mr. R._ Now, please, Br. B., what does all that prove?

_Mr. B._ Why, it proves that, in the judgment of the Cambridge Platform,
the children of church-members are members of the churches.

_Mr. R._ It shows that the Cambridge Platform calls them members; but it
gives us no proof that they are properly called members. A great deal in
that extract, I undertake to say, will command the cordial assent of all
who practise infant baptism, if we except the use of the term members.
It shows that, as to coming into the company of true believers, and
being one of them, the only way is through repentance and faith,--a way
common to the unbaptized. The only advantage, but one which is
exceedingly great and precious on the part of the believer's children,
being, that they "have many privileges," and "are in a more hopeful way
of attaining regenerating grace." But the term membership does not
express their relation to the church before they are converted.

_Mr. B._ (After a pause.) I do not know but you are right.

Mr. C., the remaining advocate of the sermon, said, "Let me refresh
your memories with the famous case quoted in Morton's New England
Memorial. He says:

"'The two ministers there (Salem, 1629), being seriously studious of
reformation, they considered the state of their children, together with
their parents, concerning which letters did pass between Mr. Higginson
(of Salem) and Mr. Brewster, the reverend elder of the church of
Plymouth; and they did agree in their judgments, namely, concerning the
church-membership of the children with their parents, and that baptism
was a seal of their membership; only, when they were adult, they being
not scandalous, they were to be examined by the church officers, and
upon their approbation of their fitness, and upon the children's public
and personally owning of the covenant, they were to be received unto the
Lord's Supper. Accordingly, Mr. Higginson's eldest son, being about
fifteen years of age, was owned to have been received a member together
with his parents, and being privately examined by the pastor, Mr.
Skelton (the other minister of Salem), about his knowledge in the
principles of religion, he did present him before the church when the
Lord's Supper was to be administered, and, the child then publicly and
personally owning the covenant of the God of his father, he was admitted
unto the Lord's Supper, it being there professedly owned, according to 1
Cor. 7:14, that the children of the church are holy unto the Lord, as
well as their parents.'"

Mr. R. stood up, and, with an animated look and manner, but with a very
pleasant voice, said:

"What, now, my good brother, did these good ministers do, with this
youth, more or less than we all do for the children of our pastoral

"Of what practical use was his so-called infant 'church-membership,' in
addition to his being, as we all hold, a child of the covenant?"

They made no reply for a little while, till at last Mr. A. said:

"Well, Br. R., what names would you substitute for _members_ and

_Mr. R._ "THE CHILDREN OF THE CHURCH;" for you have it in the last
sentence of the extract which you read from Morton;--the true, the most
appropriate, and, in every respect, the best name for those who are so
ambiguously called _members_.

_Mr. B._ There is great beauty and sweetness in that name, I
confess,--"the children of the church," "the church's children."

_Mr. R._ A father never, except for concealment, says, "a member of my
family," when "a child" is meant. The term _members_, besides being
equivocal, and requiring explanation, is not so good as "children of the
church," an expression which includes and covers all that any would
claim for "infant church-members."

_Mr. C._ I confess, I like Br. R.'s views and proposition. If, by
calling the offspring of believers, "the children of the church," we, by
implication, abridged any of their privileges, or if, by calling them
church-members, we believed that they acquired rights and privileges not
otherwise appertaining to them, we ought to prefer the words member and
membership; but it is not so. No one of the writers cited,--and the
proofs we all know could be extended by quoting from other
authors,--claims the right of a child to full communion, except upon
evidence, in his "trial and examination," that he is regenerate. Indeed,
the only use to which the terms member and membership seem to be
applied, is, in furnishing some ground for urging the discipline and
excommunication of the child. This, though urged by some, is urged in

_Mr. R._ Other terms, in connection with members and membership, have
been proposed, such as members in minority, members in suspension,
future members; but all in vain. The children of believers are certainly
the children of the church, and such I devoutly hope and pray they may
come to be called.

_Mr. A._ Seeing that the use of the term _member_ keeps before our minds
a theoretical, hard necessity, from which every one shrinks, I think I
will alter my sermon so far as to dismiss the term, and, with it, all
sense of inconsistency in neglected obligations as to disciplining these
young "members."

"Well, Br. A.," said Mr. B., "I will join you in submission."

"So will I," said Mr. C. "How good it is to be convinced, and to give up
one's own will; is it not?"

"It ought to be," said Mr. A., "to those whose great business it is to
preach submission. But I think we did not differ at first, except as to
the use of terms."

_Mr. T._ I wish to make a confession. Though I have always been of Br.
R.'s opinion, I have felt it to be invidious, and, for several reasons,
disagreeable, to call a meeting of "the children of the church,"--making
a distinction between them and the other children of my pastoral charge.
Am I correct in such views and feelings?

"Come, Mr. Chairman," said Mr. A., "we have not paid you sufficient
deference, I fear; for we have hardly kept order, in addressing one
another, and not through you. Now, please to speak for us, and tell us
what you think of Br. T.'s difficulty."

_Mr. C._ I have sinned with you, as to keeping order, if there has been
any transgression; but I have been so much interested and instructed,
that I forgot my preëminence over you. But to Br. T., I would say, There
is a church; and it means something, and something of infinite
importance. All our labors have this for their end, to make men
qualified for worthy church-membership, on earth, and in heaven,--the
conditions of admission here and there, as we hold, being essentially
the same. This church, which we thus build up, has children, call them
what we may, the objects of God's peculiar love. On that topic I need
not dwell. We ought to pay some marks of special regard to these
children, for God has done so. As to its being invidious, it is not more
invidious than to address our congregations as partly Christians, and
partly unconverted; or to invite the unconverted to meetings especially
designed for them. Meetings of the children of my church, called by me,
and addressed by me, never fail to make very deep impressions upon the
young, upon their parents, upon other children, and upon the parents of
those children. Another form of effecting the same desirable ends, is,
to call meetings of parents in the church, and their children, and to
address the parents and the children in sight and hearing of each other.
In doing so, if there are any parents in the church who are withholding
their children from baptism, we have the best of opportunities to
conciliate their feelings to the ordinance of baptism. We all know how
little is effected in our minds by abstract reasoning upon any subject,
where the feelings are deeply concerned; close argument, invincible
logic, absolute demonstrations, and all measures seemingly intended to
coërce the will, excite resistance, and confirm us in our prejudices.
But open to a parent, who has doubts on the subject, its inestimable
benefits to all concerned, and he will be more disposed to see the
grounds for it, and the abundant proofs of its divine authority, which
the atmosphere of pure reason had not sufficient power of refraction to
make him apprehend.

_Mr. S._ I thank the chairman heartily for those remarks. May I add a
leaf from my observation? I have noticed that in such meetings of
parents, in the church, and their children, good influences sometimes
reach those who are pursuing the mistaken course of withholding their
children from baptism, under the plea that they can consecrate their
children to God as well without baptism, as with it. They need to learn
the spiritual power which God has vested in the sacraments of his own
appointment, and to be disabused of the notion that the baptism of a
child is, from beginning to end, merely a human act, of which God is
only a spectator;--they need to feel that baptism is something conferred
upon a child by God; and not merely a sign, but a seal.

"Yes," said Mr. R., "it is an ordinance of God, and the neglect of it is
not merely a failure to obtain blessings, but a disregard of a divine
ordinance; not merely the withholding a sign of allegiance, but the loss
of a seal,--the government seal, not ours, which God would affix to the
intercourse between himself and our souls. If we, pastors, feel this
deeply, and so perceive the design of God in bestowing baptism upon the
children of his people, we shall convey to the hearts and minds of
doubting Christian parents, persuasive influences, which will succeed
where arguments and appeals, based on mere proofs and obligations, have

_Mr. A._ It is gratifying, now, to think that these things, and others
like them, may be done without calling the children "members of the
church." Except discipline, it is obvious that everything in the way of
watchfulness may be done for them as children of the church, which it
would be proper, or even possible to do, if they were counted as

_Mr. R._ I am aware of the analogy which many, who plead for the term
members, seek to carry out between the Old and the New Testament church,
making children members of the Christian church, because the church in
ancient days included the children. But it seems to me that there is
the same difference, now and formerly, between the relation of children
to the church, that there is between the relation of the whole religious
community, now and formerly, to the church of God. Formerly, all the
members of the religious community were, by their association under the
same belief and worship, members of the church. To make the case with us
parallel, our whole Christian community ought to be members of the
church. No examination or discrimination should be used; to belong to
the Christian community should constitute church-membership.

But this, we know, is not the case. God chooses now to make up his
visible church not as formerly, but of those who give credible evidence
of regeneration. They who worship with us, but do not profess to be
Christians, are hopeful subjects of effort and prayer, whom we expect to
receive hereafter to the visible church, on profession of their faith.

As the Christian church is constituted differently from the Jewish
church, in this respect, discrimination and separation taking place
between the members of a Christian congregation, have we not analogical
reason to infer that it may also be thus with regard to children?--who
once, indeed, were members of the church of God, but, under the
dispensation of the Spirit, they fall, with other unconverted members of
the congregation, out of membership in the church.

_Mr. C._ And yet, Br. R., the fall is not far, nor hurtful. They are
entitled to all the privileges, and they enjoy, or should enjoy, all the
care and effort, which they would have under a different name. Only they
do not come to the Lord's Supper, as a matter of course, as they did to
the Passover.

_Mr. S._ Suppose that the legislature should incorporate a fish-market,
and cede to the proprietors fifteen square miles of the sea, within
which they should have the privilege of taking fish. All the fish,
within those fifteen miles of salt water, might be said to _belong_ to
the market; yet every one of them must be taken by hook and line ere his
belonging to the market is of any practicable value. So the children of
the church may be said to belong to the church, and are to constitute
her chief resource. Rivers, and other distant or neighboring waters,
would also send fish to that market, even if they were "far off;" but it
is from the bay at her doors that the market would derive her principal
supplies. I do not see that children are members of the church, any
further than those fishes belong to that market. Go there when you will,
you see the stalls filled from those adjacent waters; supplies are
continually coming in; they are, in a sense, secured to the market by a
covenant; yet every fish is caught and handled, before he has anything
like membership in that market, as really as though he swam and were
caught in Baffin's Bay;--only he is now far more likely to be caught,
and, in a sense, he already belongs to the market by the seal of the

Mr. A., the reader of the sermon, not having much ideality, but much
plain good sense, yet taking everything literally at first, and from his
own honesty supposing that all figures of speech are to be cashed, as it
were, for what they purport on their face, immediately challenged his
brother to carry out the illustration. He asked him whether the constant
passage, in and out, of fishes from and beyond the ceded fifteen miles,
allowed of any resemblance, in the migratory creatures, to the children
of the church, who are born and remain in the limits of the church, and
are designated, individually, by virtue of their parentage.

Mr. S. replied, that he did not mean to make a comparison to satisfy all
the points of the case, and he hoped that the brethren would take it
with due allowance.

Mr. T. said that he had thought of this illustration: "All the young
male children of the Levites might be said to be members of the
priesthood. They certainly 'belonged' to the priesthood. But no one of
them could officiate till he had complied with certain conditions, nor
if he was the subject of certain disabilities. He believed that the
children of God's people have, by the grace of God, as really a
presumptive relation, by future membership, to the church of Christ, as
an infant Levite boy had to sacred offices; prayer, with the child, as
well as for it, and faithful training, with a spiritual use of God's
appointed ordinances, constitute, he was persuaded, as good reason to
hope that the child of a true believer will become a Christian, and
that, too, early in life, as that the young son of Levi would minister
in the levitical office."

"O," said Mr. B., "how many cases there are which seem to disprove
that. You will be obliged to reflect severely on some good people as
parents, if you take so strong ground."

_Mr. T._ I do not despair of a child whose parents, or parent, has
really covenanted with God for him, even though the child be long a
wanderer from the fold.

But it is the same now with Abraham's spiritual seed as it was with his
natural posterity,--neglect on the part of parents may work a forfeiture
of the covenant promises; failure in family government, above all
things, may frustrate every good influence which would otherwise have
had a powerful effect in the conversion of the child. The sons of Eli
were not well governed; Esau was evidently of an undisciplined spirit.
With regard to the children of several good men, in the Bible, it may be
inferred, that the public engagements of the fathers hindered them from
bestowing needful attention upon their sons. The only thing derogatory
to the prophet Samuel, of which we are informed, is, that his sons were
vile. With regard to certain cases of mournful wickedness, on the part
of the children of eminently good men, it will be found that some of
these men, occupying, perhaps, important stations of a public nature,
such as the Christian ministry, were so engrossed in their public duties
as not to give sufficient time and attention to their own families;
which is a great shame and folly in any father of a family. In vain do
we plead the covenant promises, if we neglect covenant duties. Grace is
not hereditary in any sense that compromises our free agency; its
subjects are born "not of blood;" there are many of the children of the
kingdom who will be cast out into outer darkness, but among them, we may
venture to say, will not be found those whose parents diligently sought
their moral and religious culture in the exercise of a strict,
judicious, affectionate, prayerful, watch and care, praying with them in
secret, which, it seems to me, is, perhaps, the most powerful of all the
means which a parent can use to influence the moral and religious
character of a child.

"Is it not a mournful inconsistency," said Mr. R., "for us to be
laboring and spending our strength and lives for the conversion and
salvation of others, and not be equally zealous for the souls of the
children whom God has given us?"

_Mr. C._ Our habits of seclusion and study may operate to make us
reserved, moody, and so repulsive, to our own children. We ought to be
interested in their every-day affairs, and watch for opportunities to
form their opinions, on moral as well as religious subjects, and be as
kind and assiduous to them, certainly, as we endeavor to be to other

       *       *       *       *       *

What more could these good men have said, with regard to the subject,
had they concluded to adopt the terms "member" and "membership," to
express the relation of children to the church? They were not conscious
of omitting or diminishing one privilege or blessing to which the
children of the church are entitled; everything which the most strenuous
advocates of "infant church-membership," so called, mention as accruing
to them, they claimed in their behalf. Did infant church-membership
admit to the Lord's Supper, as it did to the passover, the children
would now, with propriety, be said to be "members of the church." But,
inasmuch as, under the Christian dispensation, they cannot come to the
sacrament which distinguishes between the regenerate and the
unregenerate, without a change of heart, they, and all those who are
associated with the church in general acts of worship, and in Christian
privileges, but are not converted persons, are, alike, under the
Christian system, removed from outward membership--only, that the
children of the church have privileges and promises which go far to
increase the probability of their future church-membership, and directly
to prepare them for that sacred relation.

"THE CHILDREN OF THE CHURCH," then, is the sufficient name by which it
seems desirable that the children of believers should be designated.
And, instead of using the term "church-membership," applied to them, we
shall include everything which is properly theirs, we shall lose
nothing, we shall prevent great misunderstanding, and liability to
perversion, by substituting the "Relation of Baptized Children to the
Church," whenever we wish to express the peculiar and most precious
connection which they hold, in the arrangements of divine grace, with
the covenant people of God.

Chapter Tenth.


   The mother, in her office, holds the key
   Of the soul; and she it is who stamps the coin
   Of character, and makes the being, who would be a savage
   But for her gentle cares, a Christian man.
   --Then, crown her Queen o' the world.


The pastors now adjourned their session under the maples, and repaired
to the room where their wives were sitting. The ladies had finished
their deliberations, and had been strolling in the woods. But they, too,
had been engaged, like their husbands, in conversation about their
children, and the children of the church. "Maternal Associations" had
been the chief topic. They had discussed their advantages, and had
considered objections to them. The result was, that they had unanimously
agreed to promote such associations in their respective churches. Their
influence on young mothers, in helping them to train their children,
affording them the results of experience gained by others; the privilege
of stating difficult and trying cases for advice, of praying together
for their children, of having those mothers, during the intervals of
their monthly meetings, pray for the children of their sisters, and
sometimes, specially, for a child in peculiar need of prayer, commended
these associations to their judgment and affections. One lady referred
to the possible disclosure of family secrets, at such meetings, which it
was unpleasant to hear, and to the undesirableness of revealing the
faults of a child. They agreed that these things should never be done,
and that it was easy to avoid them by employing a friend, if necessary,
to state the case, hypothetically, so as to conceal its connection with
any member of the circle. The ladies had gone so far as to adopt a
little manual, for their respective circles, which they submitted to
their husbands for criticism. One of the gentlemen read it, as follows:


"Maternal Associations are designed for mutual instruction and
consultation, in connection with united prayer. Subjects for reading and
discussion relate chiefly to the physical, mental, moral, and religious
training of children. Some individual is usually prepared at each
meeting to give method and tone to the conversation, which might
otherwise become desultory. The faults of children who are known to the
members are _not_ made the subject of remark; but cases of difficulty
are so presented as to avoid individual exposure. Associations conducted
on these principles are found to be greatly beneficial.


"Impressed with a sense of our entire dependence upon the Holy Spirit to
aid us in training up our children in the way they should go, and hoping
to obtain the blessing of such as fear the Lord and speak often to one
another, we, the subscribers, do unitedly pledge ourselves to meet at
stated seasons for prayer and mutual counsel in reference to our
maternal duties and responsibilities. With a view to this object, we
adopt the following constitution:

"ARTICLE I. This circle shall be called the 'Maternal Association
of----Church;' any member of which, sustaining the maternal relation,
may become a member by subscribing this constitution. Other individuals,
sustaining the same relation, may be admitted to membership by a vote of
two thirds of the members present.

"ART. II. The monthly meetings of this Association shall be held on
the----of the month.

"ART. III. The quarterly meetings in January, April, July, and October,
shall be held on the last Wednesday of the month, when the members shall
be allowed to bring to the place of meeting such of their children as
may be under the age of twelve years, and they shall be considered
members of the Association. The exercises at these meetings shall be
such as shall seem best calculated to instruct the minds and interest
the feelings of the children who may be present.

"ART. IV. At each quarterly meeting there shall be a small contribution
by the children for benevolent purposes.

"ART. V. The time appropriated for each meeting shall not exceed one
hour and a half, and shall be exclusively devoted to the object of the
Association. Every monthly meeting shall be opened by prayer and reading
a portion of Scripture, which may be followed by reading such other
matter as relates to the interests of the Association, or by
conversation tending to promote maternal faithfulness and piety. These
exercises may be interspersed with singing the songs of Zion, and with
humble and importunate prayer, that God would glorify himself in the
early conversion of the children of the Association, that they may
become eminently useful in the church of Christ. It is desirable that
the last meeting in the year be spent in reading the Scriptures and in

"ART. VI. Every member of the Association shall be considered as
sacredly bound to pray _for_ her children daily, and _with_ them as
often as circumstances will permit; and to give them from time to time
the best religious instruction of which she is capable.

"ART. VII. It shall be the duty of every member to qualify herself, by
daily reading, prayer, and self-discipline, to discharge faithfully the
arduous duties of a Christian mother; and she shall be requested to give
with freedom such hints upon the various subjects brought before the
Association as her own observation and experience may suggest.

"ART. VIII. When any mother is removed by death, it shall be the
special duty of the Association to regard with peculiar interest the
spiritual welfare of her children, and to evince this interest by a
continued remembrance of them in their prayers, by inviting them to
attend quarterly meetings, and by such tokens of sympathy and kindness
as their circumstances may render proper.

"ART. IX. Every child, upon leaving the Association, at the prescribed
age, shall receive a book from the mothers, as a token of their
affection, to be accompanied by a letter, expressive of the deep
interest felt in their temporal and spiritual welfare.

"ART. X. The officers of the Association shall be a 'First Directress,'
a 'Second Directress,' a 'Secretary,' and a 'Corresponding Secretary,'
who shall be appointed annually in September.

"ART. XI. The duty of the First Directress shall be to preside at all
meetings, call upon the members for devotional exercises, and regulate
the reading. In the absence of the First Directress, these duties shall
devolve upon the Second Directress.

"ART. XII. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to register the names
of the members, and of their children, and to supply each of the mothers
with a list of the same, together with a copy of the constitution. She
shall also keep a record of the proceedings of each meeting, and, as far
as may be convenient, of the topic discussed, and of the remarks
elicited by it. This record shall be read at the commencement of the
next subsequent meeting. She shall likewise receive the contributions of
the children, keep an account of the same, and pay it according to the
vote of the Association.

"ART. XIII. It shall be the duty of the Corresponding Secretary to write
the letters addressed to the children upon leaving the Association, to
conduct the general correspondence, receive the contributions from the
mothers, and purchase the books to be given to the children.

"ART. XIV. Any article of this constitution may be amended by a majority
of the members present at any annual meeting.

"It is recommended to the members of the Association to observe the
anniversary of the birth of each child in special prayer, with
particular reference to that child. May He who giveth liberally, and
upbraideth not, ever preside in our meetings, and grant unto each of us
a teachable, affectionate, and humble temper, that no root of bitterness
may spring up to prevent our improvement, or interrupt our devotions.
The promise is to us and to our children; we have publicly given them up
to God; his holy name has been pronounced over them; let us see to it
that we do not cause this sacred name to be treated with contempt. May
Christ put his own spirit within us, that our children may never have
occasion to say,

   '_What do ye more than others?_'"

       *       *       *       *       *

No criticism was made upon this production, but the pastors commended
it, and rejoiced in the good which an increased attention to the subject
would be sure to accomplish. They promised to preach on the subject,
and, in their pastoral visits, to encourage mothers in the churches to
join the Associations.

One of the ladies said that she had a paper, which she had thought best
to read, if the company pleased, when they were all together, and she
had therefore reserved it until the gentlemen came in.

It was a paper in the handwriting of a Christian friend, which was found
in her copy of the "Articles and Covenant" of her church, after her
decease. This lady had been in the habit, as it seemed, of reading over
those articles and the covenant, on the Sabbath when the Lord's Supper
was to be administered; and the religious education of her children,
being identified with her most sacred thoughts and moments, she read
these questions at the same time.

The lady who read them said that it was proposed by some to append them
to the little manual already presented for Maternal Associations.

       *       *       *       *       *


"1. Have I so prayed for my children as that my prayer produced an
effect upon myself?

"2. Have I realized that to train my children for usefulness and heaven
is probably the chief duty God requires of me?

"3. Have I realized that, if I cannot eradicate an evil habit, probably
no one else can or will?

"4. Have I granted to-day, from indulgence, what I denied yesterday from

"5. Have I yielded to importunity in altering a decision deliberately

"6. Have I punished the beginning of an evil habit?

"7. Have I suffered the indulgence of an evil habit through sloth or

"8. Have calmness and seriousness marked my looks, tones, and voice,
when inflicting punishment?

"9. Was my convenience, or the guilt of the child, the measure of its

"10. Has punishment been sufficiently private, and have I tried to
affect the mind more than the body?

"11. Do my children see in me a self-command which is the effect of

"12. Have I, in my plans, my heart, and conduct, sought first for my
children the kingdom of God?

"13. Have I commended God to my children, and my children to God?

"14. Have I aimed to govern my children on the same principle and in the
same spirit which God adopts in the government of his creatures?

"15. Have I, in pursuance of the above resolution, acted in the spirit
of that prayer in God's word, 'Them that honor me, I will honor, and
they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed'?

"16. Have I aimed to secure the love and obedience of my children?

"17. Have I remembered that it is full time to make a child obey when it
knows enough to disobey?

"18. Do I realize that the fulfilment of covenant promises is dependent
on my fidelity? Gen. 18: 19.

"19. Have these resolutions been undertaken in the strength of Christ,
remembering 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me'?

"20. Have I labored to convince my child that its true character is
formed by its thoughts and affections?

"21. Do I daily realize that each of my children is a shapeless piece of
marble, capable, through my instrumentality, of being moulded into an
ornament for the palace of the King of kings?

"22. Do I, by my conversation and actions, teach my children that
character, and not wealth or connexions, constitutes respectability?

"23. Do I realize what circumstances are educating my children;--my
conversation, my pursuits, my likings, and dislikings?

"24. Do I realize that the most important book a child can and does
read, is its parents' daily deportment and example?

"25. Do my children feel they can do what they like, or that they must
do what they are commanded?

"26. Have I felt that a timid child is in great danger of being

"27. Do I, as an antidote to timidity, cultivate the fear of God and

"28. Do I realize that I must meet each child at the judgment-seat, and
hear from it what my influence over it has been as a mother?

"29. Do I realize that it is in my power to exert such an influence that
Christ shall see in each the travail of his soul, and shall be

"30. Do I realize that my children will obey God much as they do me?

"31. Do I impress on my children that little faults in Christian
families may be as dangerous to the soul, and as evil in their
tendencies, as larger faults where there is no Christian education?

"32. Do I realize the danger of retarding or hindering the work of the
Holy Spirit, by evil habits, worldly pursuits, or companions?

"33. Do I make each child feel that it has a work to do, and that it is
its duty and happiness to do that work well?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The paper having been read, one of the pastors stated that he knew the
lady who had been referred to; that she died leaving a large family of
children, all of whom, he had learned, were now members of the church of
Christ except the youngest, of tender age. He hoped that the Questions
would be printed in the Manual for the Maternal Associations.

"I was struck with the remark in some old writer," said Mr. R., "that
'God had clothed the prayers of parents with special authority.' It made
me think that, as the Saviour promised the apostles, for their necessary
assurance and comfort, that they should always be heard in their
requests, while engaged in establishing the new religion, so parents are
encouraged to think, since family religion, the transmission of piety by
parental influence, is so important, in the view of God, that they will
have special regard paid to all their petitions for aid, as God's
vicegerents in their families."

But the repast was now ready. It was a goodly sight, when that company
of ministerial friends and their wives were sitting round that table.
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together
in unity." There is a mysterious charm in eating together. It is well
known that associations designed for social acquaintance and
conversation, have, very generally, fallen to pieces soon after the
relinquishment of the repast. Our great ordinance, for the communion of
saints, is appointed to be at a table, where it originated. The flow of
kind feeling, which had prevailed during the afternoon among these
friends, seemed now to be in full tide, and many were the entertaining
and gratifying things which were there said and done. All possible ways
in which the products of an acre or two of well-cultivated land could be
prepared to tempt the appetite, were there. Br. S. was informed that
those fried fishes swam in Acushnit brook no longer ago than when he was
rehearsing his parable of the fishes. The strawberries had been kept on
the vines a day or two, for the occasion, and were in perfection. Eggs
figured on the table in every shape into which those most convertible
things could turn themselves; and, being praised, the lady of the house
said that she must tell them of Ralph, a boy of fourteen, whom her
husband had taken to look after his horse and garden, giving him his
tuition in Latin and other branches, for his services. Ralph was a great
amateur in fowls and eggs. No sooner did a hen cackle, but he resorted
to the nest, and, with his lead-pencil, wrote the day of the month upon
the egg. The lady rung her table-bell, and called him to her, telling
him to bring his egg-basket. He brought in an openwork, red osier
basket, with a dozen and a half of eggs in it, laid on cotton batting,
each egg as duly inscribed as the specimens of a mineralogist. Ralph was
highly praised.

"I suppose you think, my son," said Mr. R., "that an egg, like
reputation, should be above suspicion."

"It is best to be safe, sir," said he.

"Ralph," said Mr. S., "do you know who baptized you?"

"You baptized me yourself, sir."

"Do you remember, Ralph, how you reached out your hands, at that time,
and took my hand, and put my finger into your mouth, and tried to bite
it with your little, new, sharp teeth?"

Ralph blushed, and smiled.

"You do not remember it, Ralph. Well, I do; and now, Ralph, you must
come and preach your first sermon in my pulpit."

"It will be a long time first, sir," said Ralph.

"Your dear mother told me, when she was sick, that she thought she left
you in the temple, like Samuel, when she offered you up in baptism."

"Be a good boy, Ralph," said another of the pastors; "we will all be
your friends." He retreated slowly, feeling not so much alone in the

The company did not separate till two of their number had led in prayer,
seeking, especially, the blessing of God upon their own children, and
that they, as parents and ministers, might be warned by the awful fate
of the sons of Aaron and of Eli, and not feel that the ministerial
office gave them a prescriptive right to the blessings of grace for
their children, but rather made them liable to prominent exposure and
calamity, if they suffered public duties to interfere with that first,
great ordinance of God, family religion.

The horses were now coming to the door. Farewells and good wishes were
intermingled, the joyous laugh at some pleasantry or sally of wit made
the house and yard alive for some time, the pastors had arranged their
exchanges for several months to come, visits and excursions were planned
and agreed upon, till one by one the vehicles departed, leaving the
parsonage silent, while its occupants sat down to rest a while, and talk
over the events of the day, in their pleasant window under the

Chapter Eleventh.


   In having all things, and not Thee, what have I?
   Not having Thee, what have my labors got?
   Let me enjoy but Thee, what further crave I?
   And having Thee alone, what have I not?
   I wish nor sea, nor land; nor would I be
   Possessed of heaven, heaven unpossessed of Thee.


   He whom God chooseth, out of doubt doth well.
   What they that choose their God do, who can tell?

   LORD BROOKE (London, 1633).--"_Mustapha._"

A lady with whom we spent a summer at a watering-place, and who was then
an invalid, and with whom we had formed an intimate acquaintance, was
now very sick, with cancerous affections, which threatened to end her
life at no distant period.

She had become established in the Christian faith, during her illness,
and, being a woman of great intelligence and cultivation, it was
instructive to be in her company. Many a lesson had I learned from her,
in the freshness and ardor of her new discoveries as a Christian, the
old themes of religious experience being translated by her renewed
heart, and discriminating mind, into forms that made them almost new,
because they were so vivid. She was fast ripening for heaven; she had
looked in, and her face shone as she turned to speak with us.

A lady, a friend of hers from a distance, was visiting us, and, knowing
that she was sick, requested me to call with her upon the invalid.
Hearing that I was in the parlor, she sent for me to come up and sit
with her and my friend, after they had seen each other a little while.
She was in her easy-chair, able to converse, and was calm and happy.

The door opened suddenly, as we were talking, and in rushed a little boy
of about six years, his cap in his hand, a pretty green cloth sack
buttoned close about him, his boots pulled over his pants to his knees,
and his face glowing with health and from the cold air.

"O, mother!" said he, before he quite saw us,--and then he checked
himself; but, being encouraged to proceed, after making his
salutations, he said, in a more subdued tone, holding up a great red
apple, "See what the man, where we buy our things, sent you, mother. He
called me to him, and said, 'Give that to your mother, and tell her it
will be first-rate roasted.'"

As the mother smelt of it, and praised it, with her thanks, the boy hung
round her chair, and wished to say something.

"Well, what is it, my son?"

He spoke loud enough for us to hear, with his eyes glancing occasionally
at us, to be sure that we were not too intently looking at him, and,
with his arm resting in his mother's lap, he said:

"Do, please, let me go with my sled on the pond. It is real thick,
mother. Gustavus says that last evening it was as thick as his big
dictionary, and you know how cold it was last night, mother. Please let
me go; I won't get in; besides, if I do, it isn't deep--not more than up
to there; see here, mother!" putting his little mittened hand, with the
palm down, as high as his waist.

His mother looked troubled, and knew not what to say to him, but
remarked to us, "O, if I were well, and about the house, I could divert
him from his wish; but," said she to him, "if you will ask Gustavus to
take care of you, and bring you home when he comes, you may go."

Off he went, making fewer steps than there were stairs, and we heard his
merry voice without announcing his liberty.

"Here I am," said she to us, "with those three children, who come home
from school twice a day, and there is no mother below to receive them.
With the best of help, things sometimes go wrong, and the young woman
who sews for me cannot, of course, do for them what a mother could.
Nothing has tried my patience, in suffering, more than to hear the door
open, and my children come in from school, and to feel that I am
separated from them, within hearing, while I cannot reach them."

She controlled her feelings, and helped herself to conceal them by
turning to rock a cradle which stood behind her, though we perceived no
need of her doing so; yet we must all distrust our own ears in
comparison with a mother's. The child was a boy seven months old.

"Do you know," said she to me, "that I am thinking of joining your
church? I have had a very trying visit from my own pastor, and he says
that I am too sick to be baptized by immersion, and that it is,
therefore, too late for me to receive Christian baptism. It is not
necessary, he says, in order to being accepted of God. I was born and
brought up in that Communion, and never thought much of the subject of
baptism till I hoped that I began to love God, here in my sick-room. If
baptism is so important as our ministers tell us it is, in their
preaching and by their practice,--for you know how important they deem
it, in times of religious attention, to have people baptized in our
way,--I cannot see why it is not important to me. If it is man's
ordinance, and merely for an effect on others, very well; but if God has
anything to do in it, I feel that I need it as much as though I were in
health. So my husband asked your minister to come and see me, and he
did; and he is to baptize me and my children on Saturday afternoon, and
administer the Lord's Supper to me after church the next day."

I asked her what ground of objection her pastor had in her case.

_Mrs. P._ My minister tells me it is superstition to be baptized on a
sick-bed, and that they are careful not to encourage such Romish

"But, O," I said to him, "Mr. Dow, I am afraid it is because your form
of baptism will not allow you to baptize the sick and dying, so you make
a virtue of necessity." He colored a little, but said, pleasantly,
though solemnly, "We see how important it is, Mrs. Peirce, to attend to
the subject of religion in health, when we can confess Christ before
men, and follow the Saviour, and be buried in baptism with him."

That made me weep, though perhaps it was because I was weak; but I said,
"God is more merciful than that, Mr. Dow. I know that I have neglected
religion too long, but God has brought me to him, by affliction, and now
I do not believe that the seals of his grace are of such a nature that
they cannot be applied to people in my condition. I feel the need of
those seals, not as my profession to God, but as his professions of love
to me. I believe you are wrong, Mr. Dow. You seem to make baptism our
act toward God, chiefly; now I take a different view of it. My sick and
weak condition makes me feel that in being baptized, and in receiving
the Lord's Supper, I submit myself to God's hand of love, and take from
him infinitely more than I give him."--"O, that is rather a Romish view
of ordinances," said he, smiling.--"No," said I, "Mr. Dow, I am not
passive in the ordinances, any more than in regeneration; my whole soul
is active in receiving their influences. But there is something done for
us in the ordinances, as there is something done for us in regeneration,
while we actively repent and believe. Are you not so afraid of Romanism,
and of 'sacramental grace,' that you go to an opposite extreme? for it
seems to me a morbid state of feeling. I wish for no extreme unction,
but I do believe that, in being baptized, and in receiving the Lord's
Supper, something more is done for us than helping us to take up and
offer to God something on the little needle-points of our poor feelings.
I should feel, in being baptized, that God has adopted me, and not
merely I him; and, in the Lord's Supper, that it is more for Christ to
give me his body and blood, than for me to give him my poor affections."
He asked me if I had not been reading the Oxford Tracts. I told him that
I read the Oxford Tracts, and other Puseyite publications, in their day,
and that I saw through their errors, and had no sympathy with their

But I told him I was satisfied that the human mind, in that
development, was craving something more supernatural in religious
ordinances, to make the impression that the hand of God is in them, and
not that we are the principal party. So, instead of taking enlightened,
spiritual views of ordinances, the Tractarians sought to improve the
quality, by multiplying the quantity, of forms; and others are following
them into the Roman Catholic church in the same way.

"There always seemed to me," she said, "to be a grain of truth in every
great error. Is it not so? Even among the Brahmins of the East, and
among savages, each superstition, and every lie, retains the fossils of
some dead truth. When a new error breaks out among us, I feel that the
human mind is tossing itself, and reaching after something beyond its
experience. It seems to me," she continued, "that, at such times, it is
good for ministers and Christians to reëxamine their mode of stating the
truths of the Bible, to see how far they can properly go to meet the new
development, and, by preaching the truth better, intercept it. The cold,
barren view, which many take of ordinances, makes some people hanker
after forms and ceremonies; whereas, if we would present baptism and
the Lord's Supper as divine acts toward us, we might meet the
instinctive wants of many, and hold them to the side of truth.

"But I told Mr. Dow that I was no formalist, nor did I believe in
compromising the truth to win errorists. Clear, faithful, strict
doctrinal views commend themselves to men's consciences."

I came near saying to the good lady, that, if she were able to talk in
such a strain, and to say so much to her minister, he, surely, could not
have deemed her so enfeebled in mind as to be incapacitated for
admission to the Christian church.

"I told him, also," she added, "I was satisfied that his unvarying mode
of baptism was not ordained by Him who sent the Gospel to every
creature.--Why, said I, Mr. Dow, what do you make of the apostles'
baptizing the jailer, 'at the same hour of the night,' and 'before it
was day?' It could not have been for any public effect. What need to
have it done just then? Was it superstitious and Romish? No; it was to
comfort the soul of the poor, trembling convert, with a sense of God's
love to him. How it must have soothed and cheered him to receive God's
hand of love in that ordinance, before he himself fully knew what the
making of a Christian profession implied! I want that same hand of love
here, in my prison of a sick-chamber,--And, I never thought of it much
before, but, I said then, it seemed so clear to me that they would not
have gone to all the trouble, that night, and in the prison-house, and
after the terrors of the earthquake, to put a whole family into
bathing-vessels. To take people from sleep, ordinarily, and immerse them
in water, would be a singular act; much more when they are weak and
faint, as the jailer's family must have been, from fear and excitement.
In my own case, I could not be immersed, even at home; it would probably
cost me my life. Sprinkling came to me as so sweetly harmonious, in that
scene of the jailer's baptism, that I believed it to be the apostolic
mode of baptizing, and I told Mr. D. that I should imitate the jailer;
and that I should send for a minister who could imitate Paul and Silas."

"But," said I, "what brought you to believe in the propriety of
baptizing your children?"

_Mrs. P._ Your minister enlightened me on that subject. I told him my
heart yearned to have it done; for I took the same view of it which I
have mentioned with regard to my own baptism--that it is something which
God does, to and for the children, primarily, and it is not merely a
human act. He said that it was like laying "a penal bond" on children,
to baptize them, and oblige them to do or be anything without their
consent. O, how many such "penal bonds" I have laid on my children,
already!--the more the better, I told him. "A penal bond" to love and
serve God!--I mean to add my dying charge to it, and make it as binding
as I can. How imperfect such a view of baptism is! It is God coming to
us with his seal, not we coming with our own invention to him. I wished
to have God enter into a covenant with me, who hope I love him, to be a
God to my children forever. I felt that I could die in peace, if I might
feel some assurance of this; and, it seemed to me that, to have a sign
and seal of it from God himself would make me perfectly happy.

She handed me a book, which her pastor had lent her, and she asked me to
read a passage, to which she pointed. It was an argument against baptism
in sickness. Speaking of the penitent thief, the writer says:

"The Saviour did not, as a Papist would have done, command some of the
women, that stood by bewailing, to fetch a little water; nor the
beloved disciple to asperse the quivering penitent."

Remembering the view which the mother of little Philip took of such
things, I merely said, that the writer seemed to me to asperse a large
part of the Protestant world, under the name, Papist. Christian baptism,
I remarked, had not been instituted when the Saviour and the thief were
on the cross.

I received an invitation from the husband, a day or two after, to be
present at the baptism of his wife and children. The husband was not
professedly, nor in his own view, a regenerate man, but one of the best
of husbands and fathers, destitute, however, of the one thing needful.

The wife had on a loose cashmere dressing-gown, but was sitting in bed
for greater support and comfort.

The pastor read to her the articles and covenant of the church. She
assented to them; whereupon, at his request, I laid the church-book of
signatures before her, gave her a pen full of ink, and she wrote her
name among the professed followers of the Lamb.

The pastor then declared her to be admitted, by vote of the church, into
full communion and fellowship, after she should have received the
ordinance of baptism.

He rose, and read, "And Jesus came unto them, and spake, saying, All
power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto
the end of the world. Amen."

He continued: "My dear Mrs. Peirce, God is your God. He will have his
name written upon you, by its being called over you, with the use of his
own appointed sign and seal of baptism. The name in which he has chosen
thus to appear to you, is not God Almighty, nor his name Jehovah; but
those names which redemption has brought to view, and which impress upon
us the acts of redeeming grace and love. Do not feel, chiefly, that you
give yourself up to God in this transaction, though this, of course, you
do, and it is essential that you do so; but feel that the Father, Son,
and Spirit, come to you, and own you in the covenant of redemption, in
consequence of your accepting Christ, by faith, which itself, also, is
the gift of God. Professing repentance of your sins, and faith in the
Lord Jesus, you are now to receive, from the Sacred Three, a sign and
seal, confirming to you all the promises of grace, adopting you as a
member of the whole family in heaven and earth, and engaging God to be
your God.

"And now, as you are, yourself, a child of God, your children God adopts
to be, in a peculiar sense, his. This is the method of his love from the
beginning. Had Adam remained upright, doubtless his children would have
been confirmed in their uprightness; but, inasmuch as he fell, and, by
his disobedience, they were made sinners, God reëstablished his covenant
with Abraham as the father of all believers, under a new
church-organization, to the end of time, promising to be the God of a
believer's child."

He then read this hymn; and certain expressions in it never struck me
with such force and sweetness as in that baptismal scene:

      "How large the promise, how divine,
         To Abraham and his seed;
       I'll be a God to thee and thine,
         Supplying all their need.

      "The words of his extensive love
         From age to age endure;
       The angel of the covenant proves,
         And seals, the blessing sure.

      "Jesus the ancient faith confirms
         To our great fathers given;
       He takes young children to his arms,
         And calls them heirs of heaven.

      "Our God, how faithful are his ways!
         His love endures the same;
       Nor from the promise of his grace
         Blots out the children's name."

"And now," said he, "as you belong to the church of Christ, so your
children, in a certain sense, and that a very important and precious
sense, _belong_ to the church. Your little, unconscious babe belongs, in
that sense, to the church. You will not, you cannot, misunderstand me.
These are the children of a child of God. All your brethren and sisters
in Christ count them in their great family circle. They covenant with
you to pray for them, to watch for their good, and to rejoice in it, to
provide means for their spiritual prosperity, and to seek their
salvation. But, above all, God will ever have special regard to them as
the children of his dear child.

"Receive now," said he, "the divine ordinance of baptism, whereby God
signifies to you, and seals, all that is implied in being your God."

He drew near the bed, with a silver bowl, from which he sprinkled water
upon the head and forehead of the dear believer, whose countenance
expressed the peace of receiving, rather than the effort of giving,
while her lips moved now and then during the quiet scene.

They brought Edward, the first-born, and he stood, with his hand in his
mother's hand, and was baptized. There were almost tears enough shed by
us for his baptism, had tears been needed. Lucy came next, and then the
rosy-cheeked Roger, who had been persuaded to leave his new sled, a
little while, that Saturday afternoon.

But now the little boy was coming in from his cradle. His mother raised
herself in the bed, and received him in her arms. He had been weaned,
but, on coming to his mother, he began to make some solicitations,
which, beautiful and affecting though they were, some of us endeavored
not to see, but turned to smell of some violets, and to open a book of
engravings. The mother smiled, and held him off, but immediately put two
fingers, one on each eye, and wept;--the marriage-ring on one of those
fingers,--ah, me! how had the finger shrunk away from it. The nurse took
the child and diverted its attention. The husband sat far on the bed,
put one arm under the pillow that supported his wife, and held her hand
in his. Recollections and anticipations, we knew, were thronging,
unbidden, into that mother's soul. She had been reminded of fountains of
love sealed up, and yet there were opening within her living fountains
of water. She grew calm, beckoned for a little book on the table, opened
it, and pointed her husband to a stanza, which she had marked, and he
read it for her:--

   "When I can trust my all with God,
      In trial's painful hour,
    Bow all resigned beneath his rod,
      And bless his sparing power;
    A joy springs up amid distress,
    A fountain in the wilderness."

That was her profession of religion, and her signal to the pastor to
proceed. The father took the little boy in his arms, held him over the
bed, before his wife; the pastor reached from the other side, and
baptized Walter, in the name of the covenant-keeping God. The father
held the child for the mother's kiss, and then took him away, fearing a
repetition of the previous scene. But the wife drew her husband back to
her, and left a kiss on his own cheek, amidst his tears.

"And now," said the pastor, after prayer, "God has been in this place,
and has himself applied to you and your children the seal of his
everlasting covenant. Do not make your faith in it to depend on the
degree of equanimity or vividness in your feelings; but remember what
Elizabeth said to Mary: 'And blessed is she that believeth, for there
shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the

"O," said Mrs. P., "is it possible that I live to see this day? I almost
forget my sickness, my separation from my husband and children, in the
thought that God is my covenant God, and the God of my children. My
baptism is to me a visible writing and seal from God; and my children's
baptism is the same. I always used to think of baptism merely as a
profession on our part. O, how much more there is in it, besides that!
It is God's covenant and testimony toward me. Blessed names!" said she,
soliloquizing,--"Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! sweet society of the
Godhead! They come together; they are like the three that came to
Abraham's tent. Each has his precious gift and influence for my soul.
Why was I allowed to see this day, and enjoy this?"

The pastor said, "This is just one of those things which make us say,
'His goodness is unsearchable.' There seems to be no way of accounting
for this rich, free, sovereign love."

"Can I fear," said she, "to leave my children in such hands? No. God of
Abraham! 'thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations.'
Faithful God! 'a God to thee and thy seed after thee;' what power the
seal of the covenant has to make you believe it; yes, and seemingly to
hear it read to you. Do speak to all our dear mothers, and tell them in
health to make far more, than many do, of baptism for their children."

"And have you no blessing for me?" said the husband, as the pastor rose
to go.

"Dear sir," said the pastor, "they seem to have left you alone."

He had been sitting, somewhat out of sight, at the foot of the bedstead;
but, it was evident, from several signs, that his feelings were deeply

The pastor took his arm, and, bidding the wife an affectionate but hasty
adieu, he went with him to the sitting-room below.

"I need no arguments," said the husband, "to satisfy me, further, that
you are right. You have a system of religion which, I see, is good for
everything, and for everybody, and for all times, and places, and
circumstances. Sir, I have been sceptical; but I must confess that a
religion which can come into a family, like mine, and do what it has
done, through you, sir, to mine, and to me, must be from God. Sir, I
shall always respect our pastor for his consistency with his principles,
and for many other reasons; but I prefer principles like yours, which
can go to the sick and dying, and to little children whose mother----"

Here he began to weep. The pastor said, "To take a mother from a young
family of children, like yours, Mr. Peirce, is just the thing which we
should prevent, could we have the ordering of affairs."

"I feel," said Mr. P., "that God's hand is upon me. Passages from the
Bible, which I learned at sea, from love to my mother, come to me now.
She put a Bible in a box, and covered it up with a dozen pairs of
woollen hose, knit with her own hands. I have been saying to myself, in
the chamber, 'Behold, he cometh with clouds.' It is growing dark over my
dwelling; God is descending upon us in a cloud. 'Behold, he taketh away,
who can hinder him? Who will say unto him, what doest thou.' O, you
never lost a wife, my dear sir, nor looked on a motherless family, as I
begin to do. God help me, for I shall lose my reason."

"No, my dear sir," said the pastor; "think what has just taken place up
stairs. You now seem to say, as Manoah did, 'We shall surely die;' but
his wife said, 'If the Lord were pleased to kill us,--he would not have
showed us all these things.' God has bestowed on your children, through
their believing mother, his covenant, to be their God.--You are a Notary
Public, I believe, sir."

"I am," said Mr. Peirce.

"Then," said the pastor, "you know the importance of seals."

"O, yes," said Mr. P. "A gentleman, last week, came near losing the sale
of a large property, situate in one of the Middle States, because he had
had some papers executed, here, before a court not having a seal. I told
him, beforehand, that he was wrong; but he wished to know of what
possible use a seal could be, when the judge and the clerk used printed
forms, and the blanks were filled under their own hands. The papers came
back, and he had to do his business over again, and before a court
having a seal."

"But he was perfectly honest, at first, I presume," said the pastor,
"only the form was defective."

_Mr. P._ Yes, sir; but the form, in such a case, is the warranty. You
know that the power to have and use a seal is one of the things
specially conveyed by a legislature.

"God has seals," said the pastor. "One is baptism. It used to be
circumcision. But, as the old royal seal is broken at the coronation of
a new king, God appointed a new seal, baptism, to mark the new
dispensation; as he also changed the Sabbath of creation in honor of
his Son's reign, and removed the memorial of his deeds of greatest
renown, the Passover, for one that signifies still greater deeds, the
Lord's Supper. Thus God has his seals. He attaches great importance to
them. He binds himself by them. Your wife, being a child of God, it is
his arrangement, from the beginning, to enter into covenant with her in
behalf of her children. He stands, now, in a special relation to them,
and has placed the beautiful seal of Heaven upon his promise to that
dear sick mother, 'I will be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee.'"

"Is it necessary that the father should be left out?" said Mr. P.,
covering his face with his handkerchief. "They are mine, and God holds
me responsible for them. I am to be left alone with them in the world.
Is there not mercy for me, too? O, I had such a gleam of hope in the
chamber! As I saw the water descending from your hand upon those dear
heads, I thought, How much like a divine act such baptism is,--something
from God. I always thought of baptism as a cross, to which I must
submit; now I see that it is a token of love, bestowed upon me. So I
thought of those words: 'I am found of them that sought me not.' God
seems to have come to me in that baptism. I was expecting that, if I
ever became a Christian, I must, in token of my submission, be buried in
the waters of baptism. I would be willing to be, still, if necessary;
but that gentle baptism, coming to me and mine, seems like God being
beforehand with me, doing something with me and for me. It made me think
of Christ inviting himself into the house of Zaccheus, to save his soul.
I always felt that I must obtain religion wholly of myself; now I feel
that God has begun the work in me. I am sustained and borne on. That
baptism was the most powerful appeal that ever reached my heart. It
seems to me, in its connection with the gospel, like a beautiful
symphony of instrumental music in an anthem, which strives to interpret
the words. It proved an overture to me, indeed, in the best sense. But,
my dear sir, how near we came to losing all this which my wife has

The door opened, and little Lucy came in with two plates and two silver
knives, and that great red apple which her mother had received a few
days before. "Mother sends her love to you, sir, and begs that you and
father will eat this."

They looked at the apple for a few moments, when the husband said, "I do
not feel like eating it. Do oblige me by taking it home with you."

The pastor took it home with him, placed it on his mantel-piece in his
study, where, for several days, it gave such an odor as to attract the
notice of every one that came in. The hand that sent it to him, in less
than a week had finished its work on earth. The apple then became a
hallowed thing. There it remained till it wilted, grew soft, and finally
turned nearly black.

A little, unceremonious visitant to his father's study would often climb
into the chair near the shelf, and express his wonder, and repeat his
questions, at the seeming mystery,--first, of not eating the apple, and
suffering it to be wasted; and then, of letting it remain when it ought
to be thrown away. It was not long, however, before the apple was buried
in a pot of earth. In due time green shoots appeared. And when the
pastor saw them, he said with himself, "The children of thy servants
shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee."

How it grew in the pastor's study, a little sacramental emblem of
hallowed scenes, and of infinitely precious truths,--how a place was
selected, and afterwards prepared, for it, near a garden-wall which
separates the wife's little garden from her grave,--and how the husband
came alone, one Sabbath, and joined the church, receiving the seal of
baptism from the same hand that sprinkled the water upon the heads of
his wife and children,--I cannot tell you now, nor, after so long
detention, would you be willing at present to hear.


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