A.Pink uses Abrahamic Covenant against child baptism

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Puritan Board Doctor
This quote is from a thread in the credo section in which Arthur Pink makes some good points about the Abrahamic Covenant while taking a gentle swipe at paedobaptism. Any comments?

This is the original thread:-


Quote from Pink:
The grand promises of the Abrahamic covenant, as originally given to the patriarch, are recorded in Genesis 12:2, 3, 7. The covenant itself was solemnly ratified by sacrifice, thus making it inviolable, in Genesis 15:9-21. The seal and sign of the covenant, circumcision, is brought before us in Genesis 17:9-14. The covenant was confirmed by divine oath in Genesis 22:15-18, which provided a ground of "strong consolation" (Heb. 6:17-19). There were not two distinct and diverse covenants made with Abraham (as the older Baptists argued), the one having respect to spiritual blessings and the other relating to temporal benefits. The covenant was one, having a special spiritual object, to which the temporal arrangements and inferior privileges enjoyed by the nation of Israel were strictly subordinated, and necessary only as a means of securing the higher results contemplated.

It is true that the contents of the covenant were of a mixed kind, involving both the natural descendants and the spiritual seed of Abraham, its promises receiving a minor and major fulfillment. There was to be a temporary accomplishment of those promises to his natural offspring here on earth, and there was to be an eternal realization of them to his spiritual children in heaven. Unless this twofoldness of the contents of the covenant be steadily borne in mind, it is impossible to obtain a right and clear view of them. Nevertheless it is highly essential that we distinguish sharply between the two, lest we fall into the error of others who insist that the spiritual blessings belonged not only to the natural seed of Abraham, but to the offspring of Christians as well. Spiritual blessings cannot be communicated by carnal propagation.

Nothing could more clearly establish what has just been pointed out than, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Rom. 9:6-8). All of Abraham’s descendants did not participate in the spiritual blessings promised to him, for to some of them Christ said, "Ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24), which was shadowed forth in the fact that Ishmael and Esau were excluded from even the temporal privileges enjoyed by the offspring of Isaac and Jacob. Nor do all the children of Christians enter into the spiritual privileges promised to Abraham, but only those which were eternally chosen unto salvation; and who they are cannot be known until they believe: "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Gal. 3:7).

Let us point out in the next place that Abraham’s covenant was strictly peculiar to himself; for neither in the Old Testament nor in the New is it ever said that the covenant with Abraham was made on behalf of all believers, or that it is given to them. The great thing that the covenant secured to Abraham was that he should have a seed, and that God would be the God of that seed; but Christians have no divine warrant that He will be the God of their seed, nor even that they shall have any children at all. As a matter of fact, many of them have no posterity; and therefore they cannot have the covenant of Abraham. The covenant of Abraham was as peculiar to himself as the one God made with Phinehas, "And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood" (Num. 25:13), and as the covenant of royalty which God made with David and his seed (2 Sam. 7:12-16). In each case a divine promise was given securing a posterity; and had no children been born to those men, then God had broken His covenant.

Look at the original promises made to Abraham: "And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shah be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:2, 3). Has God promised every Christian that He will make of him a "great nation"? or that He will make his "name great"—celebrated like the patriarch’s was and is? or that in him "all the families of the earth shall be blessed"? Surely there is no room for argument here: the very asking of such questions answers them. Nothing could be more extravagant and absurd than to suppose that any such promises as these were made to us.

If God fulfills the covenant with Abraham and his seed to every believer and his seed, then He does so in accord with the terms of the covenant itself. But if we turn to and carefully examine its contents, it will at once appear that they were not to be fulfilled in the case of all believers, in addition to Abraham himself. In that covenant God promises that Abraham should be "a father of many nations," that "kings shall come out of thee," that "I will give thee and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" (Gen. 17:5-8). But Christians are not made the fathers of many nations; kings do not come out of them; nor do their descendants occupy the land of Canaan, either literally or spiritually. How many a godly believer has had to mourn with David: "Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, for this is all my salvation" (2 Sam. 23:5).

The covenant established no spiritual relation between Abraham and his offspring; still less does it establish a spiritual relation between every believer and his babes. Abraham was not the spiritual father of his own natural offspring, for spiritual qualities cannot be propagated by carnal generation. Was he the spiritual father of Ishmael? Was he the spiritual father of Esau? No, indeed; instead, Abraham was "the father of all them that believe" (Rom. 4:11). So far as his natural descendants were concerned, Scripture declares that Abraham was "the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised" (Rom. 4:12). What could be plainer? Let us beware of adding to God’s Word. No theory or practice, no matter how venerable it be or how widely held, is tenable, if no clear Scripture can be found to warrant and establish it.

The question may be asked, But are not Christians under the Abrahamic covenant? In the entire absence of any word in Scripture affirming that they are, we answer No.
I have a lot of respect for Arthur Pink but I think this certainly wasn't one of his better expositions.

He doesn't seem to see how paedo-baptists understand the Abrahamic covenant to have its fulfillment in Christ. The promise of the blessing of Abraham's 'seed' is never taken to refer to all believers but to Christ himself. It is then Christ who administers these benefits to all believers. Here is how Paul looks at the covenant made with Abraham in Galatians 3:16-18:

16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Also, I think that he completely misunderstands the paedo-baptist position. Not everyone who receives the sign of the covenant is elect. Just as circumcision was administered to believer and unbeliever (as the children would later become), so also baptism is administered to both those who will believe and those who won't.

His final point about there being no scriptures to support the fact that the Abrahamic promises apply to all Christians is baffling. We just need to see how it applies through Christ in Galatians 3:13-14:

"13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith."

Even the Westminster Confession VII:6 shows the continuity of God's promise of grace from the Old Testament believers to the New.

"...There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations."
I am a bit rushed, and I am sure that this will get adequate treatment -- as such treatment has already begun in Keith's remarks -- so I'll only note the following:

For all of his quotations from Romans, he conveniently skips Rom. 3:1-2 which militates against his view. Undoubtedly, covenant children have spiritual blessings which the child of a Hindu (for example) is denied.
Spiritual blessings cannot be communicated by carnal propagation.

True but they can be communicated by covenantal propagation (God's condescension to us and our seed through His covenant promises), as the example of Isaac proves. What, did God randomly choose the son of Abraham in whom His covenant should continue? Besides Abraham is just one biblical illustration that the covenant of grace is fulfilled in and through the chosen seed of believers, which itself is based upon the covenant made with Adam and Eve after the fall.

Indeed all of this talk of spiritual vs. physical seed sets up a false dichotomy, wherein spiritual promises cannot it seems (according to Pink) be fulfilled in the children of believers. But this makes nonsense of passages that very clearly highlight and extol the blessing of God from generation to generation. (Psalm 103:17 et al.)
Weasel words. Pink conveniently fails to mention that when a Gentile was engrafted into the Abrahamic covenant all his males were circumcised.

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof (Ex. 12:48)

No-one's saying that all Christians are Abraham, but that all Christians and their children are engrafted into the New Covenant world-conquering phase of the Abrahamic Covenant, and that those among them who believe are the true covenant off-spring of Abraham.

Pink is basically saying that in the New Covenant we revert to a less gracious condition in which God doesn't engraft families but only individuals. But even in the Old Covenant at its highest level salvation was individual, yet God deemed that families should be included in the visible church. Why should anything be different in the New Covenant? Has God's grace lessened or have the nature of Man or family ties changed?

Christianity is about the physical world as well as the spiritual, soul, mind, body, family, school, church, society, state, the whole cosmos. To distinguish between the spiritual and physical is important, but God is interested in both. We don't know who the spiritual seed are going to be at least until they are grown up, and by then it is too late to give them the benefits of being raised as a covenant child, if we haven't done that.
There's no chance that we paedobaptists are wrong.:lol:

Chance doesn't exist in our Sovereign Lord's world anyway.:rolleyes:
Ok, I started reading this link to see the "parallel" between circumcision and baptism, b.c , as a Reforemd Baptist going to a Reformed padeo-baptist church now, Im interested, listening to the concept, and curious how it is explained, ..although some have tried to explain the prallel, I still dotn see it, so I am continuing to read about it, because I WANT to understand it....
so anyway, as Im reading this, my head is spinning.... I LOVE Pink, and all that Ive read of him, but does anyone else hear what I hear, when I red this? I just heard him say that we are NOT [as Christians] part of Abraham's descendants??!
Im very very new at this PUritan Board, and also in the big scheme of things, new to Reformed Theology [ 8 yrs, have been a beleiver for 20] and have read soem good books, but dont know alot [many terms here are over my head, really, I need to tfind the 4th grade version of some forum here, haha]
but did Pink just say what I thought he said? [Christians arent descendents of Abraham?]
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