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Lord, i. e. a portion in Israel, and so in the Lord the God of Israel, then they are in the church, or members of it, and so to be baptized, according to proposition 1. The owning of the children of those that successively continue in covenant to be a part of the church, is so far from being destructive to the purity and prosperity of the church, and of religion therein, (as some conceive) that this imputation belongs to the contrary tenet. To seek to be more pure than the rule will ever end in impurity in the issue. God hath so framed his covenant, and consequently the constitution of his church thereby, as to design a continuation and propagation of his kingdom therein, from one generation to another. Hence the covenant runs to us and to our seed after us in their
generations. To keep in the line, and under the influence and efficacy of this covenant of God, is the true way to the churches glory : To cut it off and disavow it, cuts off the prosperity of Sion, and hinders it from being (as in the most glorious times it shall be) an eternal excellency, and the joy of many generations. gress of the covenant establisheth the church, Deut. xxix. 13. Jer. xxx. 20.
The contrary therefore doth disestablish it. This obligeth and advantageth to the conveyance of religion, down to after generations; the care whereof is strictly commanded, and highly approved by the Lord, Psal. lxxviii. 4, 5, 6, 7. Gen. xviii. 19. This continues a nursery still in Christs orchard or vineyard, Isai. v. 1, 7, the contrary
neglects that, and so lets the whole run to ruin. Surely God was an holy God, and loved the purity and glory of the church in the Old Testament: but then he went in this way of a successive progress of the covenant to that end, Jer. xiii. 11. If some did then, or do now decline to unbelief and apostacy, that doth not make the faith of God in his covenant of none effect, or the advantage of interest therein inconsiderable: Yea, the more holy, reforming and glorious that the times are or shall be, the more eminently is a successive continuation and propagation of the church therein designed, promised and intended. Isa. Ix. 15, and lix. 21. Ezek. xxxvii. 25-28. Psal. cii. 16-28. Jer. xxxii. 39.
The parents in question are personal, immed. iate, and yet continuing members of the church.
1. That they are personal members, or members in their own persons, appears, 1. Because they are personally holy, 1 Cor. vii. 14, not parents only, but your children are holy. 2. They are personally baptized, or have had baptism, the seal of membership, applied to their own persons : which being regularly done, is a divine testimony that they are in their own persons inembers of the church. 3. They are personally under discipline, and liable to church-censures in their own persons; see proposition 3. 4. They are pesonally (by means of the covenant) in a visible state of salvation. To say they are not members in their own persons, but in their parents, would be as if one should say,
they are saved in their parents, and not in their own persons. 5. When they commit iniquity, they personally break the covenant ; therefore are personally in it, Jer. xi. 2, 10. Ezek. xvi.
2. By the like reasons it appears, that children are immediate members, as to the essence of membership, (i. e. that they themselves in their own persons, are the immediate subjects of this adjunct of church-membership) though they come to it by means of their parents cov. enanting. For as touching that distinction of mediate and immediate, as applied to membership, (which some urge) we are to distinguish, 1. Between the efficient and the essence of membership 2. Between the instrumental efficient or means thereof, which is the parents profession and covenanting; and the principal efficient, which is divine institution. They may be said to be mediate (or rather mediately) members, as they become members by means of their parents covenanting, as an instrumental cause thereof: but that doth nothing vary or diminish the essence of their membership. For divine institution giveth or granteth a real and personal membership unto them, as well as unto their parents, and maketh the parent a publick person, and so his act theirs to that end. Hence the essence of membership, i. e. covenant-interest, or a place and portion within the visible church, is really, properly, personally and immediately the portion of the child by divine gift and grant, Josh. xxii. 25, 27, their children have a part in the Lord, as well as
themselves. A part in the Lord there, and church-membership (or membership in Israel) are terms equivalent. Now the children there, and a part in the Lord, are subject and adjunct, which nothing comes between, so as to sever the adjunct from the subject; therefore they are immediate subjects of that adjunct, or immediate members. Again, their visible ingrafting into Christ the head, and so into the church his body, is sealed in their baptism : But in ingrafting, nothing comes between the graft and the stock: Their union is immediate
hence they are immediately inserted into the visible church, or immediate members thereof. The little children in Deut. xxix. 11, were personally and immediately a part of the people of God, or members of the church of Israel, as well as the parents.
To be in covenant, or to be a covenantee, is the formalis ratio of a churchmember. If one come to be in covenant one way, and another in another, but both are in covenant or covenantees, (i. e. parties with whom the covenant is made, and whom God takes into covenant) as the children here are, Gen xvii. 7, 8, then both are in their own persons the immediate subjects of the formalis ratio of membership, and so immediate members.To act in covenanting, is but the instrumental means of membership, and yet children are not without this neither: For the act of the parent (their public person) is accounted theirs, and they are said to enter into covenant, Deut. xxix. 11, 12
So that what is it that children want
unto an actual, compleat, proper, absolute and immediate membership? (so far as these terms may with any propriety or pertinency be applied to the matter in hand) is it covenant-interst, which is the formalis ratio of member. ship? No, they are in covenant : Is it divine grant and institution, which is the principal efficient ? No, he hath clearly declared himself, that he grants unto the children of his people a portion in his church, and appoints them to be members thereof. Is it an act of covenanting, which is the instrumental means ? No, they have this also reputatively by divine appointment, making the parent, a public person, and accounting them to covenant in his cov. enanting: A different manner and means of conveying the covenant to us, or of making us members, doth not make a different sort of membership. We now are as truly, personally and immediately members of the body of fallen mankind, and by nature heirs of the condemnation pertaining thereto, as Adam was, though he came to be so by his own personal act, and we by the act of our public person. If a prince give such lands to a man and his heirs successively, while they continue loyal, the following heir is a true and immediate owner of that land, and may be personally disinhereted, if disloyal, as well as his father before him. A member is one that is according to rule, (or according to divine institution) within the visible church.Thus the child is properly, and personally or immediately. Paul casts all men into two sorts