The New England Mind: From Colony to Province

By Perry Miller

A cautious exam of the Puritan brain and the highbrow improvement of seventeenth-century New England.

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The subsequent question-which had arisen within the earliest drafts of the polity CHILDREN OF THE COVENANT os -was even if baptism should still, just like the Supper, be reserved for grownup professors. was once this no longer the inescapable final result of federal considering? there have been a number of in England who felt that it used to be, who then decried in~ fant baptism, and purchased the feared identify of Anabaptists. usually they proved to be Antinomians, or worse; continually they have been fans and perfectionists. The founders had no purpose that Congregational doctrine should still develop into so perverted, and, confident that Christ suffered little chil~ dren to return unto Him, have been made up our minds to perform child baptism. but when in addition they held sacrament does not more than make certain a religion already attained, in the event that they asserted that he who gets it with no need first experi· enced regeneration confirms now not religion yet his personal damnation, how may well they baptize an toddler whose mewling and puking in his mother's hands have been the only expression he might provide of his residing wish? They have been yes that Christ commanded them to baptize the kid, yet regrettably the hot testomony was once no longer too explici! , and interpretation required assistance from common sense. "This proving of items by means of Consequence," Cotton Mather was once to sigh, "methinks, isn't really so passable. " Mere good judgment, test~ ing to extract the warrant out of Scripture, encountered the gravest hindrances, as Presbyterians have been to benefit while within the 1640's they faced a great outbreak of Anabaptism, yet federalist theologians had what appeared a major virtue: that they had anything upon which good judgment may well dangle. The covenant made a rational framework during which the baptism of babies turned the inescapable end of an invincible srI. logism. If any bankruptcy of the encouraged textual content should be acknowledged to be extra very important than the others, in federalist eyes Genesis 17 was once the single, for there God explicitly promised Himself no longer in basic terms to Abraham yet to the "seed," to Isaac and Jacob and Joseph: "And i'm going to determine my covenant among me and thee and thy seed after thee of their generations for a permanent covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. " Had God picked, right here and there, this guy or one other, He \"! ould have recruited the Covenant of Grace, yet humanity might have received not anything greater than a unadorned decree ; yet in stooping to the capacities of guy, which He did through supplying grace within the type of a covenant, the federal Jehovah additionally gave mankind whatever extra predictable: He followed either the saint and the progeny nonetheless unconceived within the saint's loins, taking within the childrens via ex~ tending absolute forgiveness throughout the line of new release. "Behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou will probably be a father of many countries. " This was once the "pedagogie" of the outdated testomony, which the hot didn't repeal yet reaffirm, and the covenant made with Abraham is "in substance" that for which Christ served as mediator, that into which the kids of latest England have been bought.

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