Posts Tagged ‘R. B. C. Howell’

We have now seen that all children who die in infancy, are saved by the grace of God

We have now seen that all children who die in infancy, are saved by the grace of God; that they are saved through the redemption of Jesus Christ; that this redemption is applied to them personally, and directly, by the Holy Ghost; and that we have many instances of their salvation recorded in God’s word; it remains only to be proved that their salvation is unconditional.

They are involved, it is true, on account of their connection with Adam, in the consequences of his fall. But provision has been made for their unconditional deliverance, in the satisfaction of the second Adam. One among the clearest demonstrations of this truth is presented to us in connection with the doctrine of their resurrection in the last day. “Since by man came death,” says Paul, “by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die; even so in Christ, shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22.) — raised from the dead. (pa>ntev zwopoihqhsontai) It is true, then, that in the resurrection of the body, all will be raised. The righteous and the wicked, the Christian and the idolater, the adult and the infant, will alike participate in that glorious event. Here there is no condition but that of humanity. Those who live to the age of personal responsibility, are saved only upon the conditions of repentance, and faith. The wisdom of this provision no one can fail to perceive. They have a conscious being, a personal accountability. Yet it is not for their repentance, and faith; nor by their repentance, and faith, as a procuring cause, that even they are saved. They, too, obtain salvation by the grace of God in Jesus Christ:

For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8, 9.) But repentance and faith are acts of a mind enlightened, and comparatively mature. They are not demanded of infants. Infants are saved unconditionally.

Thus is the salvation of infants fully, and satisfactorily established. Wherever in the wide world, and whenever, any child dies in infancy, it enters immediately into the joys of eternal life in heaven. It thenceforth dwells forever with the Redeemer. How full of the richest consolation is this glorious truth! In no form more delightful, has Jehovah manifested to us his abundant mercy, and grace. “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

One other instance on record, of infant salvation, is worthy of our attention

One other instance on record, of infant salvation, is worthy of our attention. The murder of all the children of Bethlehem and its vicinity, by the jealous Herod, perpetrated in the hope that thereby he might succeed in destroying Messiah, was a horrible tragedy. It was foreseen, and predicted by an ancient prophet, in language full of mingled pathos and encouragement:

A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping. Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted, because they were not. Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears.” “They shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border.” (Jeremiah 31:15-17.)

Is the design of this passage difficult to perceive? Does it refer merely to the captivity in Babylon, under which the Hebrews were then suffering? Is the Mother of Israel represented as weeping in her tenderness, only over the woes of her children in a distant land, writhing under the oppressions of their masters? Does God comfort her merely with the assurance that they shall yet return from their bondage, and inhabit, in peace and prosperity, the fields and the cities of Judea? Whatever may have been the primary sense of the prophecy, inspiration itself has given it a still higher, and more exalted meaning. The evangelist Matthew furnishes the interpretation. He says:

Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men; was exceeding wroth, and sent forth and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under.” “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:16-18.)

This cruel act of Herod, therefore, was in the mind of the prophet. Of the children slain by him, consequently, it was more especially said, They shall escape from the enemy; there is hope for them; they shall possess their land! For these reasons their bereaved parents were exhorted to “ refrain their voice from weeping, and their eyes from tears.” But how was it possible to fulfill such promises? These children were all dead! They remained in their graves. Literally, these promises could never be fulfilled. The prophecy must therefore necessarily refer to another life. It evidently teaches the three following facts:

First, that all these slain children should be delivered from the great enemy, eternal death;

Secondly, that there was hope for them, since they were all redeemed by Christ, that they should enjoy eternal life; and

Thirdly, that they should possess the heavenly land, of which the earthly Canaan was a type.

These are the grounds upon which our Heavenly Father offers comfort to their parents, and exhorts them to subdue their sorrows. Their children had been foully murdered. The jealousy of the king had, with bloody and relentless violence, torn them from their bosoms. By this means, however, they had gone speedily, and safely, to eternal life. I have selected and laid before you these instances of infant salvation recorded in the word of God, and have drawn them from the children of the good and the pious, such as David; from the children of the idolatrous and wicked, such as Jeroboam; and from the children of all classes, such as were the bereaved parents “in Bethlehem, and all the coasts thereof,” in order to prove to you that all infants are saved, without any regard to the character of their parents, or the circumstances under which they were removed from the present life.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

Another instance of infant salvation occurred in the family of Jeroboam

Another instance, equally instructive, occurred in the family of Jeroboam. He, too, was a king of Israel, but a vile apostate, and wicked idolater. His child, also, was stricken with a deadly malady. He was greatly beloved, and his distressed father sought earnestly, but in vain, to save his life. The little sufferer sunk into the grave! In the midst of the tumult of sorrow produced by this event, the prophet Abijah, sent of God for the purpose, disclosed to the weeping mother, the designs of God in his removal at a period so early.

All Israel,” said Jehovah, “shall mourn for him, and bury him. He only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave. In him there is found some good thing.” (2 Kings 14, et seq.) This child, therefore, was removed, when so young that nothing of his personal history is recorded, as an act to him, of love, and blessing. But how could this be? Had he lived he would probably have been a king. If children, those of wicked parents, and of idolaters, as well as others are not saved, he was lost. It is surely no blessing to a child, to take him away from the prospects of a kingly throne, and send him to destruction! It is implied in scripture that it was an act of kindness to this child to remove him from all these prospects. Therefore God received him to himself in heaven. And if he was saved, then the children who die in infancy, of other wicked men and idolaters, are also saved.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

There are instances of infant salvation on record in the word of God

There are, I observe in the third place, instances of infant salvation on record in the word of God.

Disease had laid his withering hand upon the infant child of David. He fasted, and wept, and prayed for the life of his beloved boy. All was in vain. It pleased the Lord to order otherwise than as he desired.

The child died. Now his servants were alarmed on account of their master. They were afraid to communicate to him the melancholy intelligence:

For they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice. How will he then vex himself if we tell him that the child is dead! But when David saw that his servants whispered, he perceived that the child was dead. Therefore he said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. Then David arose from the earth, and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped. Then he came to his own house, and when he required they set bread before him, and he did eat! Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child while it was yet alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst arise and eat bread! And he said, While the child was yet alive I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious unto me, that the child may live? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him; but he will not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:15- 23.)

What is the lesson taught us by this touching incident? David did not certainly console himself with the thought that he, too, should go to the grave whither his child had gone. This consideration could surely, have afforded him no special pleasure. The grave is cold, and silent, and dismal. Nor could it have been a grateful reflection that since God had taken him away, he must submit to the necessity. If these, or any similar feelings governed him, why were they not equally influential, since they were all fully as applicable, in the case of another son, slain in battle? When tidings of that unhappy event reached David, how then did he deport himself? Did he with calm and resigned acquiescence, say to those about him, Wherefore should I lament him? “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him; but he will not return to me? “On the contrary, he was wholly inconsolable. Overwhelmed by the blow, he turned away from his friends, and trembling with agony, he “Went up to the chamber over the gate of the city. And as he went, thus he said: O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33.)

Why now this insupportable grief? The reason is obvious. Absalom was of mature age. He was a sinner against God. Besides, therefore, his affliction as a father on account of his death, he could entertain no hope for him in another life. Regarding his infant child the case was different. He had full confidence that he would, when the scenes of this world were over, “go to him” in the paradise above, where they would be associated in eternal glory. Therefore said he, in other words, He is happy now. He is in heaven. I will not grieve on his account. I also shall go ere long. Then I shall join him on high. This hope is most consolatory. It “is stronger than the grave.” It is all radiant with joy and brightness. David undoubtingly believed that his child was saved.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

All infants are depraved and sinful, how then can they be saved?

But all infants are depraved and sinful. How then can they be saved? To prepare them for happiness, it is evident that the redemption of Christ must be applied by the Holy Spirit, to their purification from sin. Otherwise they would be incapable of eternal life.

Every one is obliged to exclaim with David,

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5.) Truly may it be said,

The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they are born.” (Psalm 58:3.)

All are depraved, and depravity necessarily incapacitates those who are under its influence for the enjoyment of happiness. From infants it must therefore, to secure their salvation, be removed, and their nature must be cleansed, and purified. This great work can be done only by the Holy Ghost. The work of God the Spirit is therefore, equally as necessary to their salvation, and ours, as the work of God the Son. None are saved by the abstract redemption of the Son, irrespective of the personal application of that redemption by the Spirit. Since, however, Christ died for all, and consequently for infants; and since the work of the Spirit is necessary to complete the designs of grace thus commenced; his sanctification is given in full measure, to every departing child. In all such instances, his merits and righteousness are thus applied personally, to fit them for the change. The scriptures nowhere teach that this is done through baptism, nor any other ordinance; nor that it is withheld for the want of it. Will not the Holy Ghost “quicken even your mortal body” Romans 8:11.) sleeping in the grave, to prepare you for the resurrection of the last day? “Why then should it he thought a thing incredible,” and especially since they are redeemed by Messiah, that he should sanctify the spirits of departing children, and thus “make them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light?”

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

Infants, redeemed by the blood of Christ, are saved by the infinite grace of God

The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Christ] was made a quickening spirit. How be it that is not first which was spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which was spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

Both, therefore, according to this apostolic exposition, are heads of mankind as man. The first Adam was the author of sin; the second Adam was the author of deliverance from sin. The same terms are employed to designate those who are involved in ruin by the former, and those to whom deliverance is offered by the mediation of the latter. Both events concern the whole race, of whom some reach maturity of life, embrace Christ by faith, and are saved; others reach maturity, do not receive Christ, and are lost; but great multitudes die in infancy, and do neither good nor evil. These last stand, according to Paul, in as strict a relation to Christ, as they do to Adam, with this difference, that “Where sin abounded, grace does much more abound.” In bringing them into this world, divine sovereignty has justly, and without any act of theirs, entailed on them the depravity and corruption of the first Adam. In taking them away from the world, the same divine sovereignty has graciously, and without any act of theirs, conferred on them the salvation of the second Adam. Thus it is that, redeemed by the blood of Christ, they are saved by the infinite grace of God.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

Explaining R. B. C. Howell’s position on infant salvation as expressed in his book “The Evils of Infant Baptism”

I have been blogging through R. B. C. Howell’s book entitled ‘The Evils of Infant Baptism.‘ I have reached chapter nine whereby he argues that infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation. I have received several comments from my readers who are concerned with Howell’s reasoning in this chapter. These comments have not raised concerns concerning Howell’s denial of infant baptism, but rather raise concerns concerning Howell’s view that all infants are saved who die in infancy. My reader’s believe it to be strange that Howell would base his denial of infant baptism on the point of subverting the doctrine of infant salvation, however, when we turn to great theologians who had come before him, we will see that many held the position that infants dying in infancy are saved by God’s grace.

It would not be strange that Howell believed in infant salvation, if many of the leading theologians before his time or who were his contemporaries also held to this same view. So in this article we are not building a case for the doctrine of infant salvation per se, but rather seek to answer the question of whether or not many of the leading theologians before his time or during his time, also believed in infant salvation.

I start off by quoting Howell himself. This quote comes directly from his book ‘The Evils of Infant Baptism,’ chapter nine, ‘Infant Baptism is an evil because it Subverts the true doctrine of Infant Salvation,’ after which Howell proceeds to defend this doctrine:

“Every child dying in infancy is saved. This is the doctrine of the Baptist denomination. Not of a few only, nor of our churches, and people, of the present day alone. It is the doctrine which has been invariably held by us in all countries, and in every age. It is the doctrine taught by the word of God.”

Here it is clear that Howell was convinced that this doctrine was the position of all Baptists. However, not all Baptists held to this view, even though some certainly did hold this opinion.

Now I will quote from the Westminster Confession of Faith, (Chapter 10, Of Effectual Calling):

III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

Here is some commentary on this point found in the WCF:

“It is unlikely that the Westminster Divines were making the point that ‘non-elect infants dying in infancy’ are not regenerated! Rather the contrast is between elect infants that die in infancy and elect infants who go on to mature years. However, there was certainly a reluctance on the part of some to speak in the less ambiguous terms of the Baptist Confession. Thus Shedd can speak of ‘elder Calvinists’[1] who, unlike John Owen for example,[2] were reluctant ‘to make the circle of election large enough to include all dying infants, and not a part only.’ This he claims, was due to a fear of Arminianism.[3]

Gary Brady- Infant Salvation: A Reformed Baptist Perspective- [1] Shedd, op cit, p. 109., [2] Shedd, op cit, p. 111; Strong, op cit p. 663. I have been unable to trace Strong’s incorrect reference to Owen., [3] Shedd, op cit, p. 111.

The London Baptist Confession of Faith, (Chapter 10, Of Effectual Calling) reads thus:

3. Elect Infants dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons, who are uncapable of being outwardly called by the Ministry of the Word.

Though this statement in the confession affirms that some infants who die in infancy are saved, nevertheless the ambiguity relative to the phrase and the difficulty of pointing to a direct affirmation from the Bible on this issue prompted one confessionally Reformed Baptist to suggest that perhaps its framers should have said nothing at all.

“The Bible is silent on this issue. It would have been better, therefore, for the Confession simply to say nothing at this point, for that, I am convinced is precisely what the Bible says.”

Sam Waldron- A Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, p. 150.

However, the confession does use the terminology, ‘elect infants,’ therefore stating that at least some infants are saved who die in infancy. I believe that this is the same terminology used by the WCF and is not to be contrasted between non-elect infants and elect infants, but between elect infants who die in infancy and elect infants who grow up to eventually profess faith in Christ.

Many believe that John Calvin’s writings are not clear enough in order to determine what he believed concerning this subject. I will give a few quotes from his written materials and let you, the reader, decide whether or not Calvin believed that all infants dying in infancy are saved.

“Infants are not barred from the Kingdom of Heaven just because they happen to depart the present life before they have been immersed in water.”

John Calvin- Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 4, p. 319 (pdf version), Battles Translation

“I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin; and to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mother’s arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested.”

John Calvin, in Augustus H. Strong “Systematic Theology”, page 663.

B. B. Warfield wrote an article on the ‘History of Doctrine’ and another article on ‘The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation.’ This is what he says:

“If only a single infant dying in irresponsible infancy be saved, the whole Arminian principle is traversed. If all infants dying such are saved, but doubtless the majority of the human race hitherto, have entered into life by a non-Arminian pathway”

B. B. Warfield- Two Studies on the History of Doctrine, p. 230.

B. B. Warfield shows the development of the doctrine of infant salvation among Reformed Theologians. He outlines Zwingli’s doctrine of salvation:

1. That all believers are elect and hence are saved, though we cannot know infallibly who are true believers except in our own case.

2. All children of believers dying in infancy are elect and hence are saved, for this rests on God’s immutable promise.

3. It is probable, from the superabundance of the gift of grace over the offense, that all infants dying such are elect and saved; so that death in infancy is a sign of election; and although this must be left with God, it is certainly rash and even impious to affirm their damnation.

4. All who are saved, whether adult or infant, are saved only by the free grace of God’s election and through the redemption of Christ.

The central principle of Zwingli’s teaching is not only the common possession of all Calvinists, but the essential postulate of their system. They can differ among themselves only in their determination of what the signs of election and reprobation are, and in their interpretation of these signs. On these grounds Calvinists early divided into five classes:

1. From the beginning a few held with Zwingli that death in infancy is a sign of election, and hence that all who die in infancy are the children of God and enter at once into glory. After Zwingli, Bishop Hooper was probably the first to embrace this view. It has more lately become the ruling view, and we may select Augustus Toplady and Robert S. Candlish as its types. The latter, for example, writes: “In many ways, I apprehend, it may be inferred from Scripture that all dying in infancy are elect, and are therefore saved… The whole analogy of the plan of saving mercy seems to favour the same view. And now it may be seen, if I am not greatly mistaken, to be put beyond question by the bare fact that little children die… The death of little children must be held to be one of the fruits of redemption…”

2. At the opposite extreme a very few held that the only sure sign of election is faith with its fruits, and, therefore, we can have no real ground of knowledge concerning the fate of any infant; as, however, God certainly has His elect among them too, each man can cherish the hope that his children are of the elect. Peter Martyr approaches this sadly agnostic position (which was afterward condemned by the Synod of Dort), writing: “Neither am I to be thought to promise salvation to all the children of the faithful which depart without the sacrament, for if I should do so I might be counted rash; I leave them to be judged by the mercy of God, seeing I have no certainty concerning the secret election and predestination; but I only assert that those are truly saved to whom the divine election extends, although baptism does not intervene… Just so, I hope well concerning infants of this kind, because I see them born from faithful parents; and this thing has promises that are uncommon; and although they may not be general, quoad omnes,… yet when I see nothing to the contrary it is right to hope well concerning the salvation of such infants.” The great body of Calvinists, however, previous to the present century, took their position between these extremes.

3. Many held that faith and the promise are sure signs of election, and accordingly all believers and their children are certainly saved; but that the lack of faith and the promise is an equally sure sign of reprobation, so that all the children of unbelievers, dying such, are equally certainly lost. The younger Spanheim, for example, writes: “Confessedly, therefore, original sin is a most just cause of positive reprobation. Hence no one fails to see what we should think concerning the children of pagans dying in their childhood; for unless we acknowledge salvation outside of God’s covenant and Church (like the Pelagians of old, and with them Tertullian, Epiphanius, Clement of Alexandria, of the ancients, and of the moderns, Andradius, Ludovicus Vives, Erasmus, and not a few others, against the whole Bible), and suppose that all the children of the heathen, dying in infancy, are saved, and that it would be a great blessing to them if they should be smothered by the midwives or strangled in the cradle, we should humbly believe that they are justly reprobated by God on account of the corruption (labes) and guilt (reatus) derived to them by natural propagation. Hence, too, Paul testifies (Romans 5:14) that death has passed upon them which have not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, and distinguishes and separates (1 Corinthians 7:14) the children of the covenanted as holy from the impure children of unbelievers.”

4. More held that faith and the promise are certain signs of election, so that the salvation of believers” children is certain, while the lack of the promise only leaves us in ignorance of God’s purpose; nevertheless that there is good ground for asserting that both election and reprobation have place in this unknown sphere. Accordingly they held that all the infants of believers, dying such, are saved, but that some of the infants of unbelievers, dying such, are lost. Probably no higher expression of this general view can be found than John Owen’s. He argues that there are two ways in which God saves infants:

(1) “by interesting them in the covenant, if their immediate or remote parents have been believers. He is a God of them and of their seed, extending his mercy unto a thousand generations of them that fear him;

(2) by his grace of election, which is most free, and not tied to any conditions; by which I make no doubt but God taketh many unto him in Christ whose parents never knew, or had been despisers of, the gospel.”

5. Most Calvinists of the past, however, have simply held that faith and the promise are marks by which we may know assuredly that all those who believe and their children, dying such, are elect and saved, while the absence of sure marks of either election or reprobation in infants, dying such outside the covenant, leaves us without ground for inference concerning them, and they must be left to the judgment of God, which, however hidden from us, is assuredly just and holy and good. This agnostic view of the fate of uncovenanted infants has been held, of course, in conjunction with every degree of hope or the lack of hope concerning them, and thus in the hands of the several theologians it approaches each of the other views, except, of course, the second, which separates itself from the general Calvinistic attitude by allowing a place for reprobation even among believers’ infants, dying such. Petrus de Witte may stand for one example. He says: “We must adore God’s judgments and not curiously inquire into them. Of the children of believers it is not to be doubted but that they shall be saved, inasmuch as they belong unto the covenant. But because we have no promise of the children of unbelievers we leave them to the judgment of God.” Matthew Henry and our own Jonathan Dickinson may also stand as types. It is this cautious, agnostic view which has the best historical right to be called the general Calvinistic one. Van Mastricht correctly says that while the Reformed hold that infants are liable to reprobation, yet “concerning believers’ infants… they judge better things. But unbelievers’ infants, because the Scriptures determine nothing clearly on the subject, they judge should be left to the divine discretion.”

B. B. Warfield- The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation, pgs. 281-283 (pdf version)

Again B. B. Warfield elaborates on the development of the doctrine of infant salvation among Reformed theologians:

“Toplady, and Doddridge, and Thomas Scott, and John Newton, and James P. Wilson, and Nathan L. Rice, and Robert J. Breckinridge, and Robert S. Candlish, and Charles Hodge, and the whole body of those of recent years whom the Calvinistic churches delight to honor, that all who die in infancy are the children of God and enter at once into His glory — not because original sin alone is not deserving of eternal punishment (for all are born children of wrath), nor because they are less guilty than others (for relative innocence would merit only relatively light punishment, not freedom from all punishment), nor because they die in infancy (for that they die in infancy is not the cause but the effect of God’s mercy toward them), but simply because God in His infinite love has chosen them in Christ, before the foundation of the world, by a loving foreordination of them unto adoption as sons in Jesus Christ. Thus, as they hold, the Reformed theology has followed the light of the Word until its brightness has illuminated all its corners, and the darkness has fled away.”

B. B. Warfield- The Development of the Doctrine of Infant Salvation, pgs. 285-286 (pdf version)

Among the Baptist there has also been a variation of opinions on this subject. Charles Spurgeon certainly believed that all infants dying in infancy were saved. Spurgeon answered the charge of hyper-Calvinists who had begun to adopt Arminian teaching of the damnation of infants:

Among the cross falsehoods which have been uttered against the Calvinists proper, is the wicked calumny that we hold the damnation of little infants. A baser lie was never uttered. There may have existed somewhere, in some corner of the earth, a miscreant who would dare to say that there were infants in hell, but I have never met with him nor have I met with’ a man who ever saw such a person. We say, with regard to infants, Scripture saith but very little, and, therefore, where Scripture is confessedly scant, it is for no man to determine dogmatically. But I think I speak for the entire body, or certainly with exceedingly few exceptions, and those unknown to me, when I say we hold that all infants are elect of God and are therefore saved, and we look to this as being the means by which Christ shall see of the travail of his soul to a great degree, and we do sometimes hope that thus the multitude of the saved shall be made to exceed the multitude of the lost. Whatever views our friends may hold upon the point, they are not necessarily connected with Calvinistic doctrine. I believe that the Lord Jesus, who said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven,” doth daily and constantly receive into his loving arms those tender ones who are only shown, and then snatched away to heaven. Our hymns are no ill witness to our faith on this point, and one of them runs thus:

Millions of infant souls compose

The family above.”

“Toplady, one of the keenest of Calvinists, was of this number. ‘In my remarks,’ says he, ‘on Dr. Nowell, I testified my firm belief that the souls of all departed infants are with God in glory; that in the decree of predestination to life, God hath included all whom he decreed to take away in infancy, and that the decree of reprobation hath nothing to do with them.’ Nay, he proceeds farther, and asks with reason, how the anti- Calvinistic system of conditional salvation and election or good works foreseen, will suit with the salvation of infants? It is plain that Arminians and Pelagians must introduce a new principle of election, and in so far as the salvation of infants is concerned, become Calvin. Is it not an argument in behalf of Calvinism, that its principle is uniform throughout, and that no change is needed on the ground on which man is saved, whether young or old? John Newton, of London, the friend of Cowper, noted for his Calvinism, holds that the children in heaven exceed its adult inhabitants in all their multitudinous array. Gill, a very champion of Calvinism, held the doctrine, that all dying in infancy are saved. An intelligent modern writer, (Dr. Russell, of Dundee. ) also a Calvinist maintains the same views; and when it is considered that nearly one-half of the human race die in early years, it is easy to see what a vast accession must be daily and hourly making to the blessed population of heaven.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Exposition of the Doctrines of Grace, Thursday, April 11th 1861

A letter written by Spurgeon:

To [A Correspondent].

NEWINGTON, S.E., June 12, 1869.


I have never, at any time in my life, said, believed, or imagined that any infant, under any circumstances, would be cast into hell. I have always believed in the salvation of all infants, and I intensely detest the opinions which your opponent dared to attribute to me. I do not believe that, on this earth, there is a single professing Christian holding the damnation of infants; or, if there be, he must be insane, or utterly ignorant of Christianity. I am obliged by this opportunity of denying the calumny, although the author of it will probably find no difficulty in inventing some other fiction to be affirmed as unblushingly as the present one. He who doubts God’s Word is naturally much at home in slandering the Lord’s servants.

Yours truly,


Charles H. Spurgeon- Letters of Charles H. Spurgeon- General Corresponce, page 193, pdf version

Whereas Baptist theologians such as Keach, Dagg, and Boyce held that there were indeed non-elect infants, Baptists theologians like Spurgeon, Gill, and Broadus, believed that all infants who died in infancy are saved. All of the above believed that infants inherent Adam’s guilt and therefore ground their views of ‘elect infants’ in God’s electing grace.

All the Reformed Theologians who held to the doctrine of infant salvation were guarding the gospel against an Arminian perversion of it. If Arminianism were true, then no infants who die in infancy are saved because they do not grow up to be able to accept Christ as their Saviour. However, if God has elected infants who die in infancy unto salvation, then the Arminian scheme of salvation falls flat on its face.

Thus we have seen that many who lived during the time of Howell, among those who are Calvinistic in their soteriology, believed in the salvation of all infants who die in infancy. Therefore, we should not think it strange because Howell held to this view.

Infants are redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ

But infants are, I remark secondly, redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ, and must therefore be saved.

Their redemption is thus taught by an apostle:

Death” [natural death] “reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” In other words, infants, who have not committed actual offenses, as Adam did, have nevertheless all inherited his depravity, and are, therefore, subject to physical suffering and death. “As,” however, “by the offense of one [Adam] judgment [sentence] came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus Christ] the free gift [the offer of deliverance from condemnation under a better covenant] came upon all men, [upon as many as were involved in the consequences of Adam’s sin] unto justification of life.” (Romans 5:12-19.)

Christ Jesus suspended the execution of the sentence of death under which men had fallen, and introduced another covenant in the place of the first, and so changed the relations of things that to man, though a sinner, destruction is not inevitable. The remedy is found in the satisfaction made to divine justice by Messiah, the promised “seed of the woman.” In consideration of his atonement the ground of condemnation is changed. His interposition has placed the whole subject in an entirely new aspect. Previously, if I may so speak, all men were condemned. Their relation to Adam had involved them all in the curse. Subsequently the case was different.

This is [now] the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19.)

Ye are condemned,” “because ye have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18.)

Not now it is not so much because of your relation to Adam, disastrous as that relation may be, as because you do not embrace Christ by faith. Hence all the counsels, the warnings, the commands, the invitations, the promises of divine revelation, are addressed to those who are capable of exercising intelligence. And its denunciations are hurled only against willful rebellion, impenitency, and unbelief.

What are we here taught concerning infants? They have not the capacity to know any thing of the gospel. They are not impenitent, or rebellious. They have not rejected Christ. They are clearly included in his mediation, since “by his righteousness the free gift came upon all men to justification of life.” That free gift must of course have come upon them. They are redeemed by Christ. And again. The relation to us of our Lord Jesus Christ in the work of redemption, is clearly, to man as man. Adam and Christ, are alike, heads of the race,

The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Christ] was made a quickening spirit. How be it that is not first which was spiritual, but that which is natural, and afterwards that which was spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49.)

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

Infant salvation is guarantied by the nature of the divine government

Infant salvation is guarantied, in the first place, by the nature of the divine government.

God is infinitely good. His benevolence forbids the infliction of unnecessary suffering upon any of his creatures. Misery is never permitted, but when demanded by justice, as either the consequence, or the penalty of sin. The government of God is designed, not only to benefit his creatures, but also to manifest his glory. Through this medium, as well as through his works, and his word, he reveals his true character to all intelligent beings. Infants have no personal, or individual accountability. For the condemnation of the deliberate and impenitent rejecter of the gospel, and also of the wicked despisers of God, who violate the laws of nature, and of their own conscience, I can perceive ample reasons. In such a case I can readily comprehend how God, as the governor of the universe, will glorify his infinite righteousness. But I cannot see how this could occur in the case of infants. It is infinitely more in accordance with all our conceptions of God, to conclude that in them he will evince his special beneficence. It is, in truth, abhorrent to every feeling of kindness and love, to suppose that he will cast them off, or that he will not receive, and save them. There is no want of fullness in the redemption of Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit is not limited. God is infinitely gracious. What then is to hinder their salvation? Rather, does not every consideration connected with him, with his government, and his glory, seem imperatively to demand the salvation of infants?

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation

Infant baptism subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation


Doctrine stated; argument in proof; manner in which subverted by infant baptism; authorities; conclusions.

DEATH is a relentless destroyer. He assails, without distinction, all classes and conditions of men. The young and the old alike fall beneath his power. Upon infancy, however, his shafts descend most frequently, and with a deadlier aim. How large the proportion of mankind who are hurried into eternity during the first years of their being! Where is the family that has not mourned infants loved, and lost? Bleeding hearts, and flowing tears, in all lands, tell of sorrows which no words can ever adequately express!

Millions of infant spirits have gone into the unseen world. Each is an immortal intelligence. In that world they all possess the sensibilities common to humanity. With these facts before us, one question of surpassing interest, presses itself upon us all. Of departed infants what is the eternal destiny? Are they happy, or miserable? Parental affection implores, Christian sympathy earnestly solicits, and ministerial faithfulness demands, that these inquiries receive a prompt, intelligible, and scriptural answer. We believe that all infants are saved unconditionally, through the application to them, by the Holy Ghost, of the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ. No matter whether they are in the church or out of the church, whether they are baptized or unbaptized, whether they are the children of believers or unbelievers, of heathens, Mohammedans, or Christians, their everlasting blessedness is equally, and in all cases, secure.

These, and all other such like circumstances, are irrelevant, and never can affect their relations with Christ. Consequently they can have no bearing upon their future destiny. Every child dying in infancy is saved. This is the doctrine of the Baptist denomination. Not of a few only, nor of our churches, and people, of the present day alone. It is the doctrine which has been invariably held by us in all countries, and in every age. It is the doctrine taught by the word of God. Having thus stated our position, I proceed at once, to the proofs of its truth.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 9- Infant baptism is an evil because it subverts the true doctrine of infant salvation