For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel in those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he bath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is, ready to vanish away.” It is evident that the author of the epistle to the Hebrews applied the text in Jeremiah to the new dispensation; and therefore the church in the old and the new dispensation are one and the same. Once more, this is also evident from a comparison of Amos 9:11-15 with Acts 15:13-17. In the passage from Amos we read: “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof: and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant-them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.” When you read this passage, you would certainly get the impression that it is nothing but a prophecy of a literal restoration of Israel in their own land. But now consider the passage from Acts 15. There we read: “And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.” It is evident that while Amos speaks of the return of the children of Israel to their own land, to build again the tabernacle of David, James explains that this restoration of the tabernacle of David is fulfilled in the new dispensation by the fact that the Gentiles enter into the fellowship of Christ.
Thus it is throughout all Scripture. Always the Word of God knows only of one people of God, and of one and the same covenant. Only in the light of this is it possible that Christ is in possession of the keys of the house of David. Jerusalem and Mt. Zion are not destroyed, Out they are realized in the new dispensation; only the shadows of them are gone forever: And the same is true of the temple, of the altar, of the holy place, of the sacrifices, of the high priest. The land of Canaan is indeed the promised land, promised to Abraham and his seed as their everlasting possession. But this land is not the earthly country near the Mediterranean Sea, which only is a shadow of the tie country, but refers to the heavenly country that is to come, when the New Jerusalem shall come down upon earth from heaven. Such was the hope of the saints of the old dispensation. For thus we read in Hebrews 11:8-10: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” And in verse 13 of the same eleventh chapter of Hebrews we read: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” And. in verse 16 we read: “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” The entire Word of God, therefore, teaches the unity of the people of God and of all that pertains to them. All the promises are in Christ, and through Him they are for the true seed of Abraham of all ages, that is, to the elect and to the believers only.
But there is more. Not only are the people of God in the old and in the new dispensation the same, but also the sign of covenant, though different in form, is the same in both dispensations. Those that maintain that the baptism of infants is based on Scripture always call attention to this truth, and correctly so: for it is an important and necessary link in the chain of the Scriptural argument for infant baptism. The objections which Baptists love to make against the baptism of infants is not a Scriptural one, but rather one which they draw from their own mind. It is that baptism is a sign and seal of the righteousness of faith, of the forgiveness of sin, of regeneration, and that therefore it may be administered only to those whom we know to be believers, that is, to those that confess their faith; that it is an established fact that many of the infants that are baptized in later life prove to be no children of God at all, and are lost; and that for this reason it is certainly wrong to administer the sign of baptism to children of believers before they have come to years of discretion. Against this argument many counter-arguments may be adduced, such as, the fact that faith can be and is, in fact, in the hearts of infants, implanted immediately by the Holy Spirit. Although they do not yet actually believe, yet they have the faculty, or power, of faith. Moreover, if Baptists argue that one must be sure that faith is present in the heart of anyone before he can be baptized, the Baptist himself cannot baptize on that ground either, for the simple reason that there may be and are, in fact, hypocrites among them that are baptized. But de main argument which the Baptists here produce turns against themselves. For what they here urge against the baptism of infants holds in its full force against infant circumcision. Yet their circumcision is directly enjoined by the Lord upon the seed of Abraham in their generations.
Also circumcision was a sign of the righteousness which is by faith, of spiritual circumcision, of the circumcision of the heart, of regeneration and sanctification, of the cutting away of the old man of sin, of the love of God in a new heart. In all these respects the significance of the old covenant sign is the same as of the sign of baptism. The identity of the two signs, though they differ in form, can be clearly proved from the Word of God.
Let us just quote a few of these passages concerning circumcision. In Leviticus 26:40, 41 we read: “If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity.” It is evident here that an uncircumcised heart is the same as a heart that will not confess sin and iniquity. To be uncircumcised in heart is to be unconverted. By implication this means that a circumcised heart is a regenerated and converted heart, from which there arises sorrow over sin and confession of iniquity. Of such a heart, therefore, circumcision was a sign. In this respect, therefore, circumcision has the same significance as holy baptism. In Deuteronomy 10:16 we read: “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart and be no more stiff-necked.” Here too it is evident that circumcision was a sign of a circumcised, that is, of a sanctified heart. Circumcision and baptism, therefore, have the same significance. The same is true ofDeuteronomy 30:6: “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”