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themselves to keep the seven Noachic precepts, concerning justice, obedience, idolatry, profaneness, sacrifice, theft, and modesty. Swearing before three witnesses to observe these rules, they enjoyed the prosperity of the people of God, and were in the path of eternal life. Naaman, Cornelius, and the Ethiopian eunuch, were proselytes of the gate, and had access to the court of the Gentiles. The proselytes of the temple could enter the court of the Israelites.
In the New Testament every convert from heathenism to Judaism, wherever he dwelt, received the name of proselyte ; and the Pharisees were said to compass heaven and earth to make one, Matt. xxiii. 15. Nicholas was a proselyte of Antioch, Acts vi. 5.
66. Miracles, why not of frequent occurrence.
It is the nature and definition of a miracle to be something out of the ordinary course of nature, and not explicable by known laws. If such wonders were of frequent occurrence, they would cease to be wonders. Scepticism would ascribe them to latent, or yet undiscovered natural causes —perhaps to a juggle, or confederacy. Except to the original eye-witnesses, the evidence of miracles depends upon testimony; and unless all men had ocular demonstration, their repetition would add no conviction to the minds of any who might be excluded from that privilege. A, B, and C might be gratified with a miracle; but unless all the letters down to Z saw it, to them it would still be testimony. Again, that one grain of corn should produce sixty or a hundred, is as much a miracle as feeding five thousand men with five barley loaves. Reason cannot account for the effect; but as the sequence is constant and invariable, we call it the course of nature. A constant or frequent sequence in the other case would soon acquire the same name.
If we allow God to be the author of the course of nature, we must admit that the course of nature is planned by infinite wisdom; and though it may seem good to God to shew his power over the course of nature by varying it on some great occasion, in order to give the sanction of truth to the words of any messenger he may commission to instruct or warn mankind, yet to repeat these deviations frequently would be to depart from the plans and course of infinite wisdom, and would come, in the end, to shake belief in that wisdom. But, in addition to all this, the soul has moral instincts, which point, both in hope and fear, to hereafter. Of these the lower animals know nothing. We are sensible of an inward check before the commission of sin, which is a lash of scorpions after it: nor are we less sensible that virtue has reason to look forward to a more equitable allotment of recompense than it here receives. What are these accusings and self-approbations, but a fearful looking-for of judgment, and a prophesying that verily there is a reward for the righteous-natural indications, in short, of a future state ? Though we speak humbly of merit, and think our evils deserved, there is no proportion here between moral good or evil, and reward or punishment, as they regard different individuals. The last act of the drama is clearly yet to come.
In the first instance, the all-wise plan of good is waved for the sake of greater good; in the latter, it would be sacrificed to the desires of an unreasonable scepticism. Neither is it certain, that if frequent miracles produced conviction, they would, in a self-deceiving heart, produce conversion : for if they hear not Moses and the prophets (it may be said of sceptics), neither would they be persuaded [to repent] though one rose from the dead.
Miracles of frequent occurrence would, under a different view, overwhelm the minds of men, and force conviction, instead of acting on the judgment: and being suited to beings whose belief is probationary as well as their conduct, they would destroy the nature of faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1.
67. A future state proved by the nature and capacity of the soul.
The soul, even in its fallen state, is of a nature which shews it to be born for immortality; it is endued with power and aspirations which scorn the narrow toils, and aim beyond the limited time of this brief life, and the contracted space of the globe it treads; it feels as it were the budding of its wings, and longs to expatiate among the bright worlds it sees at a distance, and to know more of the works of the Creator; it has conceptions of pure bliss which present things cannot satisfy, and which would be useless and inexplicable on the supposition of its being annihilated,—drawing off its attention from the only reality it should ever enjoy, and converting a God of wisdom into a God of cruelty.
Besides the nature, the capacities of the soul indicate its being formed for immortality. Throughout the inferior creation the Almighty seems to have adapted the capacities of animals to the enjoyments and occupations for which they are designed. As they do not seem to be destined for a future life, they are furnished with no conception of it, being left to the contented
. enjoyment of their proper accommodations; and further, beyond a certain pitch of growth, they are incapable of improving their nature, even here, progressively. Every brute creature, like every herb, soon attains its zenith of perfection, and then passes away. What an ox, a dog, a nightingale, were at the creation, they are now, and they are no more,-an insuperable barrier stops their progress. Man has not only a strong desire for infinite advancement—a feeling in his nature that he is born for another scene, but a peculiar power of endless progression in knowledge, and purification in holiness, continually verging but never attaining to the throne of God.
Why did the Creator distinguish, and, we may say, mock his reasonable creatures with these views, and these expanded capabilities, if the whole were to terminate in an illusion? Why dissatisfy them with their present condition, by setting the notion and expectation of a brighter future before them, which should be a shadow, a dream? Why make a vessel of boundless dimensions to pour into it a few drops ? or plant a palm-tree with properties of lofty growth, to stunt its early shoots, and crush it as it rises to the heavens ? The germ of illimitable knowledge—the ability of multifarious acquirement, far exceeding the longest and best-improved extension of human life-the expectations, and the conscious powers of exploring secrets yet unknown, and of discerning the lofty and unimagined things of immensity, cannot at all comport with our ideas of a being born but to toil round the mean and narrow mill-wheel of a short and evil term of labour, enjoying a few scanty irradiations of imperfect information, and then doomed to sink at once from unworthy drudgery into more unworthy oblivion ; from partial knowledge into utter and endless darkness ; from the thirst of inquisitiveness into the gulf of annihilation. It is not possible to conceive that a discursive faculty, capable of traversing the firmament, should have no ulterior destiny beyond that of ministering to the low wants, and aiding the mean occupations of its bodily associate, or be circumscribed within the narrow compass and guess-work of threescore years and ten— the confinement in a jar, compared with its panting elasticity.
68. Infant baptism.
Go ye and baptise all nations, Matt. xxviii. 19; but nations consist of young children as well as adults. The household of Lydia, of the jailor in Philippi, and of Stephanas, were all baptised at once; and it is not to be supposed that they did not contain children. In a former article we have shewn that circumcision, the corresponding rite in the Jewish church, was practised on the eighth day after birth. God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. ii. 4), and baptism is the entrance to salvation; for, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, John iii. 3. Our Lord himself said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven ; and if for a blessing, why not for a baptism, which is the means and emblem of a blessing? But if adult were substituted for infant baptism, should we say that all persons dying before their fourteenth year are lost? How then would be explained, 1 Cor. vii. 14, Else were your children unclean, but now they are holy; or, Acts ii. 39, For the promise is to you and to your children? .
The Anti-pædobaptists urge the text, Go and teach all nations, baptising them, Matt. xxviii. 19, as a reason for saying that all persons should be taught before they are baptised: but as in the original the words stand, Go and make disciples or Christians of all nations, baptising them, &c., as is evident from the following verse, baptising and teaching, — the teaching before and the teaching after the rite would be tautologous. In adults the teaching is included in the making of disciples ; in infants it may scripturally follow. .
Baptism is called, in Coloss. ii. 11, the circumcision without hands, and the circumcision of Christ; and so must be co-extensive with that rite. Infants had been baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 1 Cor. x. If an express command were necessary to order infant baptism, why is the other sacrament administered to women, or the Sabbath advanced to the first day? If the kingdom of heaven consists of little children, they must (in a Christian land, where baptism is within reach) be baptised; since without baptism by water, none can enter there. Infant baptism was never questioned for 1500 years ; and all the early Fathers speak of it. Infant baptism binds the infant to keep the terms of a covenant; and he either must keep them, or lose the privileges of the covenant- that is his alternative. Baptism always accompanied circumcision in the Jewish church in regard to a proselyte with his infants; and it is not prohibited in regard to infants by Christ. But can an infant be a disciple? He can receive the Holy Ghost, and be regenerated (a term used by the Fathers as synonymous with baptism): John the Baptist was full of the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb. Repent, and be baptised ; for the promise is to you and to your children, Acts ii. 39. Shall an infant have its angel always beholding the face of God, and shall we refuse it a place in the church on earth ?
69. The holy of holies, the sanctuary, the court of the temple.
The court of the temple was the sacred area before the building, subdivided into the court of the Gentiles, the court of the Israelites, and the court of the priests; in which last stood the altar of burnt-offering, and the brazen laver.
The sanctuary, or holy place, was the building itself; which, after passing its porch, was seen subdivided into the holy and the holy of holies. In the outer, or holy place, stood the golden