Home > Baptism > Pedobatist perversions upon 1 Corinthians 7:1-17

Pedobatist perversions upon 1 Corinthians 7:1-17

These were the perplexing circumstances under which they wrote to Paul for advice. He answered them in substance, that the old Jewish law regulating intercourse with gentiles, was not applicable to them, not only because the ceremonial dispensation to which it exclusively belonged had passed away, but also because in their case, (and the same was true of all other churches,) its observance was impracticable. Any attempts to enforce it, must have been attended with the most disastrous consequences. The Christians, unlike the Jews, lived, and must live, in the midst of unbelievers. Many of them were connected with their families, and were a part of them. With such persons they could not avoid contact, and association. If such separation was necessary to preserve their Christian purity, then to retain it they “must needs go out of the world.” But especially some of them were married to unbelievers, and if this abrogated Jewish law was to be enforced all such husbands and wives must part from each other. But this was not demanded by the gospel, and ought not to take place, unless the temper of the unbelieving party should render it necessary. “If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath a husband that believeth not, if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace.” Believers and unbelievers who are husband and wife, may lawfully, and ought to continue to dwell together. No such rule of ceremonial holiness, and uncleanness, obtains under the gospel as that which characterized the Mosaic economy. The marriage tie makes the parties, though it unite a believer with an unbeliever, holy to each other. The unbelieving husband is not unclean so that the believing wife may not lawfully dwell with him. The unbelieving wife is not unclean so that the believing husband may not lawfully dwell with her. Why then separate? Let them remain together. And for their continued union there is yet another most important reason. God may perhaps, bless the efforts of the believing, to the conversion and salvation of the unbelieving party.

And yet more. Must the believing husband or wife separate from the unbelieving, for the reasons alleged? Then it will follow that, for the very same reasons, the believing parent must also separate from his own children, since they also are not believers! Indeed, not a member of the church, if separation from all unbelievers is necessary to preserve his Christian purity, must touch his own children, eat with them, or associate with them. The believing parent occupies, in this respect, precisely the same relation to his child that he does to his unbelieving wife. Must he separate from his wife? He must also separate from his child. But you do not, said Paul, consider your children unclean to you, but holy. You do not, you must not, humanity forbids that you should, consider their touch polluting. They are sanctified, holy, clean, to you. So also the unbelieving wife is sanctified, holy, clean to you. You must not separate from your child. Therefore you must not separate from your wife. “The unbelieving husband is sanctified to[29] the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified to the husband, else were your children unclean [to you], but now they are holy” to you. Therefore the unbelieving wife is holy to you. In the same way that the child is holy to the believing parent, the unbelieving husband is holy to the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is holy to the believing husband. You may lawfully remain with your children. You may therefore lawfully remain with each other. Throw aside these absurd notions about the old Jewish law of ceremonial purity. Dwell together in the conjugal relation. “As God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all the churches.”

Is not this a true exposition of the sense of the apostle? It is self-evident. Some few of the more learned pedobaptist divines have seen and confessed it. Dressier, for example, says:

According to Paul a holy pedigree is nothing in religion. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth any thing, but keeping the commandment of God. The passage 1 Corinthians 7:13-14, [that now before us] does not support any such view. He says, if the Christians would flee from every unbeliever, regarding him as unclean, they must flee from their own children, and hold them as unclean, for they were among the unbelievers. Otherwise your children would be unclean, for they are not Christians by birth merely. But now are they holy, i.e., you are not to consider yourselves polluted by them.”[30]

Such is the lesson, in response to their inquiry, taught by Paul to his brethren the Corinthians. How beautiful! How important! How simple! How easy to be understood! Not the remotest reference is made in it in any way, to infant baptism. Yet it is declared to be “one of its best supports!” Accordingly our brethren have chiefly predicated upon it this declaration in the Westminster Confession of Faith

Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.”[31]

Commenting upon the passage,

“Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy,”

Mr. Henry says:

“That is, they would be heathen, out of the pale of the church, and covenant of God. They would not be of the holy seed.”

“The children born to Christians, though married to unbelievers, are not part of the world, but of the church.”[32]

On the same passage Dr. Clarke remarks:

“If this kind of relative sanctification were not allowed, the children of these persons could not be received into the Christian church, nor enjoy any rights or privileges as Christians; but the church of God never scrupled to admit such children as members.”

Dr. Miller, after admitting all that we have just seen, still says that Paul

pronounces under the direction of the Holy Spirit, that in all such cases, when the unbeliever is willing to live with the believer, they ought to continue to live together, that their connection is so sanctified by the character of the believing companion that their children are holy, that is, in covenant with God; members of that church with which the believing parent is in virtue of his profession united; in one word, that the infidel party is so far, and in such a sense, consecrated by the believing party, that their children shall be reckoned to belong to the sacred family with which the latter is connected, and shall be regarded and treated as members of the church of God.”[33]

These are specimens of the havoc made of the sense of the word of God for the sake of infant baptism.

Look at the perversions here committed.

Paul teaches, as they contend, that the offspring of parents one of whom is a believer, are born members of the church with which the believing parent is connected; that they are born in covenant with God; that as such they are entitled to “enjoy the right and privileges of Christians;” and that were it not so their children “would be heathens!” Here are four palpable perversions. None of these propositions are true in themselves; they are not sustained at all in the word of God; and especially they are not found in the instructions of Paul to the Corinthians. But a still greater perversion of this passage, if possible, remains to be mentioned. Paul told the Corinthians that as they did not consider their children ceremonially unclean or unholy to them, but holy, and they therefore took care of them; so the unbelieving party in marriage, since she bore the same relation to the believing party with the child, was not to be considered by the other ceremonially unclean, or unholy, but holy, and they should therefore remain together. No, no, Paul! Respond our Pedobaptist brethren, this is not what you mean! You mean that the holiness of the children is spiritual, that it is “ecclesiastical,” and more, you mean that this holiness is produced by hereditary transmission, so that the children are born in the covenant and church of God, and, since as such they are entitled to “enjoy the privileges and rights of Christians,” they are to be baptized! Thus boldly do they contradict the apostle himself, and greatly also to his injury; since if their interpretation is true they make Paul speak nonsense, and bring him into collision with himself, and other portions of divine truth. Are the terms unclean, sanctified, and holy to be understood in a spiritual, or an ecclesiastical sense? They so maintain. It is certain that these words are used in the same sense in their application to both parent and child. It follows thus, that if the child is to be baptized because that relationship makes it holy, as certainly is the unbelieving husband, or wife, to be baptized because by the same relationship he, or she, is sanctified. He who is sanctified is holy, and the sanctified have the same right to baptism with the holy?[34] If then you baptize the child upon the faith of its mother, you must, to be consistent, baptize the unbelieving husband upon the faith of his wife, since if the child is holy, so also is the unbelieving father sanctified. But it is certain Paul teaches no such doctrine. Paul was wise. We have reason to lament that so much cannot be said of very many of his professed interpreters.

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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