Home > Baptism > Concerning Acts 2:39, Who that possesses any tolerable knowledge of the scriptures could readily imagine that learned and good men would venture this as the sense of the passage in question?

Concerning Acts 2:39, Who that possesses any tolerable knowledge of the scriptures could readily imagine that learned and good men would venture this as the sense of the passage in question?

Thus, briefly, I have submitted the sense of the passage, and that it is the true sense it seems to me impossible to doubt. In what part of it is infant baptism taught? Not the remotest reference is found to any such thing. Yet say our friends, “it is the chief scripture ground for infant baptism!” How is it possible for them to make good this assertion? It cannot be done. But you shall hear their arguments.

They shall speak for themselves. Mr. Henry gives the meaning of this passage as follows. Peter, he asserts, intends to say, in other words, to the people: “Your children shall have, as they have had, an interest in the covenant, and a title to the external seal of it. Come over to Christ to receive those inestimable benefits; for the promise of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, is to you, and to your children.” “When God took Abraham into covenant he said, I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed; Genesis 17:7 and accordingly every Israelite had his son circumcised at eight days old. Now it is proper for an Israelite, when he is by baptism to come into a new dispensation of this covenant, to ask, What shall I do with my children? Must they be thrown out, or taken in with me? Taken in, says Peter, by all means; for the promise, the great promise of God’s being to you a God, is as much to you and your children now, as ever it was.[24]

Who that possesses any tolerable knowledge of the scriptures could readily imagine that learned and good men would venture this as the sense of the passage in question? It is crowded in nearly every line, with absurdities and perversions. Let them be separately, and more particularly designated.

In the first place, the representation that the word “children” in the passage means the babes of those then present is absurd for three reasons;

First, because Joel says they were their sons and their daughters, who should then prophesy; and Peter did not intend to contradict Joel:

Secondly, because their babes could not fulfill the conditions upon which the promise was made: and Thirdly, because of the nature of the promise itself, which was that they should receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and prophesy. The word “children” is unquestionably used by Peter, in the sense of posterity simply. This fact is so obvious that it is frankly conceded by some of the best biblical critics among the pedobaptists themselves. Dr. Whitby says: “These words will not prove a right of infants to receive baptism, the promise here being that of the Holy Ghost mentioned in verses 16, 17, 18, and so relating only to the times of the miraculous effusions of the Holy Ghost, and to those persons who by age were capable of these extraordinary gifts.”[25]

Limborch of Amsterdam, says:

“By children the apostle understands not infants, but posterity.” “Whence it appears that the argument which is commonly taken from this passage for the baptism of infants is of no force, and good for nothing.”[26]

With these distinguished interpreters agree Doddridge, Hammond, and many others. To represent Peter therefore, as referring to infant children, and inculcating their baptism, is a most injurious perversion of the word of God.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 2- Infant Baptism is an evil because its defense leads to most injurious perversions of the Word of God

 

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