Was Nehemiah Coxe a pro-paedobaptist?

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Milkman | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Feb 7 2020 4:29 PM

Was he? I thought he wasn't. I don't have the book yet. Just seeing if he was.

mm.

mm.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 7 2020 8:55 PM


§. 11. I should here have put a close to this Chapter; but that I judg it may be convenient in this place, briefly to touch upon that Notion of Infant’s Church-membership, which is much spoken of with Reference to those Times, the History of which we have already past thro’; And the rather, because of the Light we may receive from the things already discoursed, to guide us to a right Understanding of the true State of the Question about it; By many such a thing is affirmed to have been from the Beginning, and great Weight is laid upon it in the Controversie about the right Subjects of Baptism; It being judged to afford a sufficient ground for applying the Seal of the Covenant to the Infant Seed of Believers. For my own part I find not in the Scriptures Occasion given for any long Discourses about it; and I shall not desire to be wise above what is written; And therefore I shall endeavour in few Words to represent some things grounded upon the records of matter of Fact, in the Scripture, which I conceive may be sufficient to determine our Thoughts, as to the Issue of our present Enquiry about it. And they are these that follow:

§. 12. First; The term Church in the Scriptures is not (that I find) applyed to any particular Society of Men united in one Body, in order to the maintaining of the publick and solemn Worship of God among themselves; before the Children of Israel were compleately formed into a Church-state, by the Covenant that God made with them in the Wilderness; They are called the Church in the Wilderness, Act. 7:38. Yet I doubt not but all good Men before that time did belong to that general Assembly, and Church which Christ hath redeemed with his Blood, and made the Members of his Body; and I grant that we may (using the Term in a more laxe sence) call any Family or Society of Men truly worshiping God, a Church of God. Nevertheless, if we consider the Circumstances relating to the different State of things in those different Times, it will appear, that no Society before the Jewish Church was formed, can be called a Church in so strict, and proper a sence as they might; for no other were so formed into a Church-state as they were.
2. Before Abraham’s time, there was no Institution of an outward Sign, or, Seal of any Covenant to be applyed either to Infants or adult Persons; And therefore there could be no Inauguration of this kind, or solemn Right of Initiation to Church Priviledg then in Use among them. All that can be said of the Children born in those Families and Societies, must issue in things of another Nature: viz. That they were under a more special and gracious Providence of God than others, as being Members of a Family peculiarly interested therein: They had also the Benefit of continual Prayers for them, and the Advantage of early and diligent Instruction, being brought up in the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord; and so preserved from many Snares and Temptations that others are liable to, by the Discipline they were under; And being provoked to Religion by the pious and holy Example of those they conversed with; as soon they were capable of it (if, when grown up, they did not break thro’ all these Fences, and revolt to a wicked and irreligious Life) they actually joyned with that Family and Society to which they belonged, in the solemn Worship of God.
3. If we consider Church-membership in such a Notion of it as will agree to that time wherein Circumcision was first instituted, we can by no means conclude that a Right to Circumcision did result therefrom; For certainly the Patriarchs, and other good Men then living, and their Families, were as truly Church-members, as Abraham and his Family; yet were they not therefore to be circumcised, but the particular Law and positive Institution of this Ordinance, did alone determine the Subjects thereof. And moreover;
4. It was not Membership in Abraham’s Family singly and simply considered, that brought a Person under the Law of Circumcision, without respect to other Circumstances of Time and Sex expresly set down in the Institution; For Circumcision was to be applyed to the Males only, tho’ the Right of Church-membership belonged as as well to the Females as to them: And it is no satisfactory Answer to say the Female is not a Subject capable of Circumcision; For if it had pleased God to have made Church-membership the reason and ground of applying this Seal of the Covenant, he could easily have appointed such a Sign, as all Members had been capable of; Besides, how doth it appear that the Females were utterly uncapable of any kind of Circumcision? Save that God required no such thing: Vitriacus reports that the Jacobites use Circumcision of both Sexes; and so do the Habassines;* and therefore the thing in it self is not impossible; that which hath been done, may be done: Moreover we find the circumcising of the Males was limited to the eighth day; it might not be done sooner, nor delayed longer: and the Slaver that were bought with Mony must needs be circumcised, tho’ they were no Church-members, nor the Children of such; from all which it is manifest, that they proceeded not upon a Notion of Church-membership, but were strictly governed by Divine-Institution in the matter of circumcising or not circumcising.
5. To conclude; It is granted that the Jewish Infants were born Members of that Church; This priviledge they had in the Flesh; But this evidently belongs unto the national and typical Church-state of that People; which State by the Gospel is dissolved, and is so inconsistent with the Ministration thereof, that the Position of the one, necessarily infers the Abolition of the other; And therefore this Right and priviledge of the Jew which was in the very foundation of their national Church-state, as separated from the Gentiles, cannot be transfer’d into, because it will not comport with, the Gospel-dispensation.
Besides, It is evident throughout the whole Gospel, that Right of Membership in the Jewish Church, could never give to any, either Infant or Adult, a like Right of Membership in the Gospel Church; nor was there ever any one received thereinto, co nomine, because he had such a Right according to the State of the Old Covenant. And there is good Reason to conclude, that the carnal Seed of Believers can derive no higher priviledge from the Covenant of Circumcision, then the carnal Seed of Abraham obtained thereby: And if it could not bring the one into the Gospel Church, nor give them a Right to Baptism without an actual Compliance with the Terms of the Gospel, by Repentance and Faith, it can by no means do so for the other, tho’ we should suppose them concerned in it, as indeed they are not.

“It remains therefore; That as Circumcision of old Time was administred according to the positive Law, and express Will of the Lord; so ought Baptism to be now, and no otherwise; neither can I see any ground to conclude for Pædobaptism, until such a divine Law can be produced for the warrant of it, as was of old given, for circumcising the Male Infants of the Jews.


Nehemiah Coxe, “Of the Covenant of Circumcision,” in A Discourse of the Covenants That God Made with Men before the Law (J. D., 1681), 155–160.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Milkman | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Feb 7 2020 8:58 PM

Thank-you. 

mm.

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