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MY gratitude is due to God, and to his people, for the kindness with which this little work has been received. A second edition is demanded at a much earlier period than I had anticipated. I have prepared it with as much attention as my circumstances would permit. Some portions of the book, as will be seen, have been recast, and a new Chapter has been added, on Infant Salvation. More perspicuity and con-elusiveness have, as I think, been thus given to some of the arguments, and the whole work made much more complete. Again I send it forth, with the earnest prayer that it may prove a blessing to the cause of true religion.


Richmond, Virginia, Dec. 17th, 1851.


THE following pages were written with the specific design of considering, not the “mode of baptism,” nor “the subjects of baptism”, but the EVILS of INFANT baptism.” What baptism is, and who are authorized to receive it, have been questions of controversy during fifteen hundred years. The last two centuries have been especially prolific of essays and books on these subjects. Great learning and zeal have been called in requisition on both sides of the discussion. The conflict, as time passes, loses nothing of its interest, but grows each year, more and more warm. Nor will it ever cease until all Christians fully understand the divine teaching in the premises, and submit themselves to the guidance of the word of God. The evils of infant baptism seem, however, to be a topic which has attracted heretofore, but very little attention. I have seen an occasional allusion to it in books, and periodicals, and sometime a paragraph or two, affirming and sustaining the mischievous results of the rite. I myself wrote a small tract on the subject, more than twenty-five years ago, entitled “Plain Things for Plain Men,” suggesting most of the propositions contained in this work. Beyond these almost nothing, so far as I know, has been published.[1] Consequently the advocates of infant baptism, driven from every other quarter, have here felt themselves safe. They affirm, and expect us to admit, that “If it does no good, it does no harm.” It is innocent, and therefore may be practiced. It was this very apology, offered in its behalf lately, by a friend in my presence, and which I had before so often heard, that called forth the book now before you. I thought it wrong to permit the public mind longer to remain involved in this error; and as I knew of no one who was likely soon to expose it, I determined to undertake the task myself. I have attempted, with what success my readers will judge, to show that infant baptism is far from being harmless. On the contrary, that it is one of the most calamitous evils with which the church has ever been visited.

Permit, if you please, a word of explanation in the outset, regarding some terms, and phrases, of frequent occurrence. I have spoken of it as baptism, when only sprinkling was used, and infants were the subjects, not that I suppose any such thing really baptism, or that others than believers are capable of the ordinance, but simply as a matter of courtesy, and in compliance with common usage. In the same sense I have spoken of the church, “the churches,” and “the churches of Christ.” In the use of these, and like expressions, I shall certainly, by all intelligent people, be perfectly understood. One other prefatory remark will be pardoned. In this, as in every other book I have written, I have carefully sought the utmost simplicity and plainness. I write for “the million,” and I have determined that “the million” shall understand me. I am unwilling to sacrifice force and directness to elegance of style. I do not enter in the presence of my readers, into labored criticisms, nor abstruse disquisition’s, but give them the results simply, without fatiguing them with the process; and they have them in the plainest Saxon I can command. It has been my purpose to present the truth fully, fairly, and candidly, but at the same time, with all proper respect for the opinions of others. I have not introduced an argument which I do not believe to be logical and conclusive, a single passage of scripture which I am not persuaded is relevant, nor an authority from any writer, ancient or modern, which I am not assured is justly adduced, and applicable to the subject. My sole desire is the honor of truth, and the salvation of men.

With these observations premised, I send forth this little volume, earnestly praying that God our Heavenly Father, may make it a blessing to his cause and people.


Richmond, Virginia, March 24th, 1851

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Innfant Baptism


[1] Since the first edition of this work went to press, I have seen Dr. Gill’s Tract, “Infant Baptism a Part and Pillar of Popery,” edited by George B. Ide, D. D., and published in a handsome little volume, by the American Baptist Publication Society. This volume has a chapter by Dr. Ide on “The Influence of Infant Baptism on Protestant Churches, Historically considered.” This is an able and conclusive chapter, of which, in this second edition, I have fully availed myself.

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