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A fourth perversion of Acts 2:39 by Pedobaptist

This short passage is subjected to a fourth perversion. They maintain that the gospel covenant is a continuance of the covenant of circumcision! Their language is, “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 to enter into a new dispensation of this covenant, to ask, What must be done With my children?” And is the gospel a new dispensation of this covenant that God made with Abraham, according to which “every Israelite had his son circumcised at eight days old? The gospel a new dispensation of the covenant of circumcision! And does Peter so teach? No such thing appears, either in this text, or elsewhere.

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

 

A third perversion of Acts 2:39 by Pedobaptist

A third perversion of this passage is committed. Our Pedobaptist brethren insist that the promise in question, relates to the blessings pledged in the covenant with Abraham. The promise as stated by Peter, was the gift of the Holy Ghost to believers. But their version is wholly different. They interpret the apostle as saying to the Jews: Your children [infants] shall [still] have as they have had, an interest in the covenant [with Abraham] and a title to the external seal of it,” all which the gospel gives to you, and consequently to them!

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

 

A second perversion is found in the implication that the faith and baptism, of their parents, were the conditions upon which their infant children were to receive the Holy Ghost

A second perversion is found in the implication that the faith and baptism, of their parents, were the conditions upon which their infant children were to receive the Holy Ghost, and the remission of sins.

This passage teaches no such thing. Our pedobaptist brethren however represent Peter as saying in other words, to the Jews there under conviction of sin, and whom they, singularly enough, suppose to be inquiring, “What must I do with my children;” “Come over to Christ to receive these inestimable benefits; for the promise of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, is to you and to your children.” Do you join the church of Christ, and your children, by virtue of their relation to you, shall be entitled to the same blessings you receive. They shall share with you every gospel blessing, and especially “the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Do not hesitate therefore; “come over to Christ.” What a monstrous perversion!

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

 

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

 

What, I now inquire, was the promise of which the apostle here spoke in Acts 2:39?

What, I now inquire, was the promise of which the apostle here spoke? It was undoubtedly, the gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter himself so declares.

“This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: (Joel 2:2832.) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all. Flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants, and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my spirit.” “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21.)

It is decided therefore that the promise was the Holy Ghost, whose influences as predicted by Joel especially, were at that moment seen so conspicuously among the people. This truth is indubitable.

To whom, I next ask, was this promise made? Peter answers, “To you Jews, and to your children, and to all that are afar off.” The words of the promise in Joel, recited by Peter, are, To you Jews, and to “your sons and your daughters.” By “children” therefore, the apostle means “sons and daughters,” or in general terms, posterity. (tekna) The gentile nations are in other places of the scriptures spoken of as “them that are afar off.” They are, therefore, the persons alluded to in that form of language. But was it the promise of God that all or any these classes of persons, who in reality included “all flesh,” should receive the Holy Ghost in the times of Messiah, “the last days”, unconditionally? No one will surely maintain that it was, and especially since these very conditions were explicitly stated. They were according to Joel, that the persons in question should “call on the name of the Lord.” Peter instructs us that by calling on the name of the Lord is implied, that they should “repent, and be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” The promise was to be fulfilled to all those who should comply with these conditions, and to none others. If you Jews repent of your sins, and by baptism profess your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is to you. If your “children,” or as Joel calls them, “your sons and your daughters,” repent of their sins, and by baptism profess their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is to your children. Nor are these privileges and blessings to be confined to your nation. They are to be extended to “them that are afar off,” to “all flesh,” to “every creature,” to all nations,” to as many as the Lord our God shall call by his gospel, and who shall repent and be baptized, no matter to what people they belong. They also shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, for the promise is to them. To that anxious multitude how full of encouragement was this precious gospel message! It fell upon their hearts like gentle showers upon the parched earth. Hope sprang up in the bosoms of about three thousand, who gladly received the word.” They believed it; they acted upon it; they became the subjects of renewing grace, and received the Holy Ghost, according to the promise 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

 

Another text abused and misused by Pedobaptists

April 24, 2020 2 comments

One striking instance is now before you of the perversion of the word of God, made for the sake of defending infant baptism. Take if you please, another. In a learned and very elaborate work recently published, by a distinguished clergyman of the Episcopal church, we have the following passage: “The chief scripture ground upon which it [infant baptism] is placed, is the text,

The promise is unto you, and your children.” Acts 2:39.

And one of its best supports is St. Paul’s statement that the children of a believing parent are in a certain sense holy.?1 Corinthians 7:14.[23] We have here therefore, as claimed by pedobaptists themselves, the two passages which are, the one their “chief scripture ground” for infant baptism, and the other “its best support.” We will therefore, briefly examine them both, and see to what extent they have been perverted for the defense of the rite in question.

“The promise is to you, and to your children.” (Acts 2:39.)

This text we are told, is the chief scripture ground upon which infant baptism is placed.” That you may understand it perfectly, I will refresh your memory with the circumstances under which this inspired declaration occurred. It was uttered by Peter, in Jerusalem, during the ever memorable Pentecost.

Multitudes had on that day, been called together by “the signs, and wonders, and miracles” resulting from the fulfillment of the promise of God in the gift of the Holy Ghost. This intrepid apostle seized the occasion to preach Christ to the people. His sermon evinced great power, and was attended with singular success. Large numbers were convicted of sin, and in the anguish of their heart cried out: “What shall we do?” In the strictest consonance with the apostolic commission, and almost in its very words, he answered: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

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

Go and baptize all nations is a perversion of the Word of God

By what kind of process, we now inquire, can it be possibly made to appear, that this law to baptize believers is a law to baptize infants? Pedobaptists shall themselves answer, and in their own words.

“In this commission to his apostles,”

says Dr. Worcester,

“his direction was that all nations should be baptized, and children constitute a part of all nations;” therefore children are to be baptized.[20]

Dr. John Edwards remarks:

“This general commission includes all particulars. Go baptize all nations, is as much, and as full, as if Christ had said, Go baptize all, men, women, and children.”[21]

Matthew Henry observes:

“If it be the will and command of the Lord Jesus that all nations should be discipled by baptism, and children, a part of all nations, are not excepted, then children are to be discipled by baptism.[22]

These are fair examples of their teaching; and of the manner in which they bring infant baptism into the commission of Christ to his apostles.

Consider these expositions attentively. How evident the perversions they contain! Were the apostles directed to baptize all nations without respect to moral character, or any other religious qualification? Surely not. Is the commission a command in other words, to “baptize all, men, women, and children?” Preposterous claim! If infants are not in the commission “excepted” in express terms from baptism, are they therefore to be baptized? How surprising the pretension! Is any one ever “discipled by baptism?” To disciple is to teach. To teach is one thing. To baptize is another. They are not the same thing. To pretend then, that any one is “discipled by baptism” is nonsense. Here we have four perversions of this portion of the word of God, all palpable, and all made evidently for no other reason than to defend infant baptism. When great and good men, such as these, and the thousands of others who agree with them, thus interpret the commission, we cannot but lament the blindness of mind into which this pernicious error has betrayed them.

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

The apostolic commission, which I had occasion in the preceding chapter to recite, has been confidently claimed as a law for the baptism of infants

In proof of the proposition now before you, I will point you to appropriate examples. But these are so numerous that I know not where to begin. A proper exposition of them all would require a volume. In the space allowed to this chapter it is not practicable to do more than briefly to refer to a few instances. These, however, of themselves, will be sufficient to establish the truth of the proposition now before us.

The apostolic commission, which I had occasion in the preceding chapter to recite, has been confidently claimed as a law for the baptism of infants. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” This is the version of Matthew. That of Mark is as follows: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” How plain! How perspicuous! How comprehensive! To mistake its sense would seem almost impossible. The solemn obligations thus imposed, are to be faithfully and always obeyed by both the teachers, and the taught. And let it not be forgotten that the several parts of the commission are to be observed in the order in which they are enjoined. The order is plainly as imperative as the commands themselves. A violation of the order is indeed a violation of the commands. This interpretation so evidently correct, is not peculiar to Baptists. Pedobaptists also give it their concurrence.

Baxter, for example, says:

“This is not like some occasional historical mention of baptism, but is the very commission of Christ to his apostles, and purposely expresseth their several works in their several places and order.”

“To contemn this order, is to renounce all rules of order; for where can we expect to find it if not here?”[19]

Each duty in the commission must therefore be observed in the order in which it is enjoined. Thus far all is simple and obvious. The commission is evidently, as before seen, a law to baptize believers, and believers only.

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

THE defense of infant baptism, unsustained as it is by divine authority, necessarily leads to most injurious perversions of the word of God

The general principle; instances in illustration, from the apostolic commission; from Peter’s sermon; from Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians; from Christ’s blessing the children; forms of the evil.

THE defense of infant baptism, unsustained as it is by divine authority, necessarily leads to most injurious perversions of the word of God. The same may be said also, of every other departure from truth, to support which a resort is had to the sacred record. The evil resulting will of course, be in proportion to the magnitude, and peculiar bearing, of the error sought to be established. Infant baptism is not a mere ceremony, which when performed, ceases to be of any further importance. Considered in itself, it may indeed seem of little consequence. It is not however thus isolated. Its relations, and influences extend themselves into every department of Christianity. It is the process by which the churches which practice it, receive their entire membership, and must therefore enstamp upon them all, its own peculiar character. It leads to insidious and hurtful expositions of scripture; imposes upon the people false doctrines; subverts the true ecclesiastical polity; corrupts the spirit of religion; vitiates Christian intercourse; weakens the power of the gospel; and hinders the conversion, and salvation of men. Like an error in the beginning of a mathematical calculation, it runs through the whole process, continually increasing in magnitude as it advances, until every part of it is involved in hopeless confusion. How then, can infant baptism be taught and defended without most injurious perversions 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

Infant baptism is not according to the law of God, It is a violation of the law of God

My proposition is thus fully established. We have seen that “Infant baptism is not supported by the word of God,” because it is not found to be instituted, or in any manner authorized in the inspired records; because the different sects who imagine that they find it there, prove the contrary by their mutual refutation of each other; because the most pious and learned among pedobaptists themselves, confess it is not directly taught in the sacred writings; because the great Christian axiom which teaches that the divine word is our sole authority in religion, does not permit us to receive as scriptural what is not recognized in the scriptures; because the attempt to make it a divine institution by the testimony of the Fathers, through the medium of tradition, is a miserable failure; and because it is really and distinctly forbidden in the word of God. Infant. baptism is, in truth, therefore, no baptism at all. God in his word, does not recognize it as baptism. It never can be recognized as baptism by the people of God. It is exclusively an institution of men foisted surreptitiously into the religion of Christ. It is therefore a most appalling evil. Some of the forms and bearings of this evil may now not improperly be considered.

It betrays ministers into most fearful presumption. When an infant is baptized the minister performs the rite professedly, in the name, and by the authority of Jesus Christ! But Jesus Christ never authorized any such thing! On the contrary, he has discountenanced and forbidden it! What then, shall be said of the act? What magistrate in civil society would venture, under pretense of law, to do a thing, and especially in his official capacity, for the sanction of which no law could be produced, and which by existing laws, according to any reasonable interpretation, is plainly prohibited? Such an officer would act most presumptuously. He would violate his trust. In what well-regulated community would his administration long be endured? And shall ministers of religion thus conduct themselves, and that too without compunction, and without rebuke? In this unauthorized and prohibited ceremony of infant baptism, shall they not only meet no discountenance, but on the contrary be sustained, and defended? How can a conscientious servant of Christ occupy a position so revolting, and abhorrent?

But ministers are not alone concerned in this evil. Infant baptism must create in the minds of the people generally, who are under its influence, a want of proper respect for the word of God. The habit of acting without law, and in opposition to law, leads to this result inevitably. This truth is so obvious that no argument is needed in its support. May men do, under pretense of law, the most important acts for which no law can be produced? May they indeed, do all these things, and be sustained in them, even in opposition to law? How long then, will it be to them a matter of any special concern what the law may require? They are not obliged to conform to its demands. They may do what they please with impunity, without regard to law! Do they any longer yield a due respect to the law? Do they feel for it any special deference? Assuredly they do not. In civil society this is true, and it is pre-eminently true in religion. Infant baptism necessarily destroys respect for the authority of the word of God.

The evil is still more striking in the fact, that it is a bold attempt to perfect that which it is vainly conceived God has left imperfect. It is greatly more criminal to do in the name of Jesus Christ, what he has not commanded, than it is not to do what he has commanded, since when you fall short you thereby confess the difficulty of obedience, but when you go beyond, you impugn his wisdom. In the former case you acknowledge your own deplorable weakness. In the latter, and especially when you claim what he has not authorized or permitted as a part of his religion, you madly charge him with defectiveness, and attempt by additions of your own, to make his government more complete. Why did he not ordain infant baptism? Evidently because he did not design that his religion should embrace any such ordinance. You have discovered that it is necessary, and have therefore added it! You saw that it was demanded to make God’s appointments complete! You know better than Jehovah, what is requisite to give perfection to his religion!

Who, in view of all these facts, can avoid the conclusion that infant baptism is a sin against God? What is sin? Is it not any thought, word, action, omission, or desire contrary to the law of God?[18]

“Sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4).

Infant baptism is not according to the law of God. It is a violation of the law of God. It is the trans-gression of the law of God. Therefore infant baptism is a sin against God.

These are some of the forms in which, as an ordinance not instituted, nor sanctioned by Jesus Christ, the evil of infant baptism is developed. Its practice betrays ministers into fearful presumption; it creates a want of respect for the divine law; it charges imperfection upon the institutions of Messiah; and it is a sin against God. Infant baptism is unsupported by the word of God. It is therefore a great and fearful evil.

In conclusion permit me to entreat for these facts and arguments, your patient, unbiased, and prayerful consideration. You fervently desire to glorify God, and in all things to do his will. You have no wish to depart in any respect from the divine law. You would not encumber religion, much less pollute it, with any doctrines, or observances, not sanctioned from on high. You must therefore, remove infant baptism from its place in your theological system. While it remains there, it will continue to produce its natural fruits. Its extirpation only, can relieve you from its inherent evil. Humbly receive, and diligently practice the religion of Christ, guided in all things, exclusively by his most holy word, and infant baptism will be known no more. To the ascertained will of our Heavenly Father meekly submit yourself. Upon this principle alone is it possible for you to “keep the commandments of the Lord your God which he commanded you.” “Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” But rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 1- Infant Baptism is an evil because its practice is unsupported by the Word of God