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In regard to the persons to be baptized

1. Infant baptism leads its advocates into rebellion against the authority of Christ in regard to the persons to be baptized.

These are described definitely, in the apostolic commission. When last the voice of Messiah was heard upon earth, it was in the utterance of the command, Go, and make disciples, not among the Jews only, but among all nations. Teach them the gospel, and those who believe it baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. This duty imposed upon them is obligatory upon all their successors in the ministry “unto the end of the world.” But infant baptism has introduced a condition of things that renders rebellion inevitable. In Pedobaptist countries, such as Italy and Spain, an instance of compliance with the command of Christ has not occurred in a thousand years. In those lands, or among Pedobaptists anywhere, who can “make disciples, and baptize them?” All the people have been baptized in their infancy. There are, it is true, among them many unbelievers; multitudes who are still “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bonds of iniquity;” they ought to hear and believe the gospel; but they have all been baptized! They are all in the church! Shall we exhort them as Peter, in his day, did those of the same character, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you?” This would be inappropriate. They have “every one” of them been baptized without repentance! Have any of them, a rare event, been instructed, and obtained faith? May we then say to them, as Philip did to an interesting convert, “If thou believest with all thy heart thou mayest be baptized?” No; they have all been baptized without faith! And if any zealous preacher of righteousness should undertake to baptize one of these baptized infidels, after his conversion, he would subject himself to the disgrace and the civil penalties of being an Anabaptist. The Savior requires that men shall first believe, and then be baptized. But the order he established is now reversed. The impenitent and unbelieving, as well as the holy and faithful, all have long ago been baptized. Thus infant baptism subverts the authority of Christ. It baptizes exclusively UNBELIEVERS, AND BELIEVERS! In proportion as it prevails the apostolic commission is contemned and violated. This remark may be illustrated by referring to a fact in the history of our fathers. In England, until after the restoration of the Stuarts, there was not in the established church, even a liturgy for the baptism of adult persons. During the Commonwealth, the citizens had enjoyed under Cromwell, a liberty of conscience before wholly unknown. With the Bible in their hands, great numbers of the people became Baptists. Their children were of course not baptized. After the return of the monarchy, these were compelled to submit to the ordinance, and for this purpose the liturgy was remodeled, and an “office” inserted, then for the first time, for adults. Dr. Wall narrates these events thus:

“It was by reason of this [the prevalence of the Baptist] opinion in those times, that the Convocation that set presently after the restoration of Charles II., when they made a new book of Common Prayer, found it necessary to add to it an office for the baptism of those who, having been born in those times, had not yet been baptized, whereof there were many that were now grown too old to be baptized as infants, and ought to make profession of their own faith. They gave in the preface to the said book an account of the occasion which made this necessary then, though not formerly, in these words, “Together with an office for the baptism of such as are of riper years.” Which, although not so necessary when the former book was compiled, yet by the growth of Anabaptism, through the licentiousness [freedom of conscience] of the times, is now become necessary.”[126]

From the period, therefore, that Popery took possession of Britain in the seventh century, up to the reign of the second Charles, no believers, unless in secret, were ever baptized in all that realm! Thus completely and effectually, as to the persons appointed to receive this ordinance, does infant baptism lead to rebellion against the divine law, and subvert the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ!

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 10- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it leads its advocates into rebellion against the authority of Christ

Infant Baptism is an Evil because it leads its advocates into rebellion against Christ

CHAPTER 10

INFANT BAPTISM IS AN EVIL BECAUSE IT LEADS ITS

ADVOCATES INTO REBELLION AGAINST THE

AUTHORITY OF CHRIST

Christ’s authority paramount; infant baptism contemns it, in regard to the persons to be baptized, the required profession of faith, and the form of baptism; it prevents the obedience of believers.

THE authority of Jesus Christ is everywhere absolute. in his church he is the sole lawgiver, and ruler. His known will is, in all cases, decisive of your duty. His right to govern is unquestionable. He is your Creator and Redeemer, infinitely wise, good, and merciful. You are his people, ignorant, imperfect, and dependent. To enlighten and guide you he has given his most holy word, in which you have instructions on all subjects, and to the utmost extent. This perfect revelation you are obliged to receive as it is, and be governed by it in your heart, and your life. To attempt evasions in any respect; to practice as his what he has not commanded; or to substitute in place of his institutions any of your own; is to come directly into collision with his authority. Infant baptism offends in all these respects. It leads to the violation of divine commandments regarding the persons to be baptized, the preliminary profession of faith, the form of the ordinance, and the obligations to Christian obedience.

R. B. C. Howell- The Evils of Infant Baptism- Chapter 10- Infant Baptism is an Evil because it leads its advocates into rebellion against the authority of Christ

Infant baptism subverts, and falsifies the true scripture doctrine of infant salvation

Infant baptism, as these facts and considerations amply evince, subverts, and falsifies the true scripture doctrine of infant salvation, and thus proves itself an appalling evil, by denying the teachings of the word of God on that subject, and placing it upon fictitious grounds; by requiring that infants shall be in the church in order to be saved; by making baptism the means of removing original sin, and the medium of conveying to them “the merits of Christ’s life and death;” by proclaiming that the purification of the Holy Spirit is obtained for them only through this ordinance; and by keeping out of sight the great truth that all infants are saved unconditionally, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. For all this evil inflicted upon the truth, and for the boundless distress and anguish created by the falsehood, Pedobaptists of all denomi-nations are responsible to God, and to men. Infant baptism has produced it all. They, not the Baptists in, are the men really, who “hold the damnation of infants!” We would, if we could, heal the festering wound they have inflicted. We repudiate the doctrine of infant baptism, and of infant damnation. We denounce all their accompaniments, and consequences. If God is just and good, if reason deserves respect, if the gospel is true, if the merits of Christ are efficacious, if the Holy Spirit is not bound by the control of men, and tied down to forms and ordinances, then all children dying in infancy, irrespective of any relation with the church, and without regard to baptism, or any other ordinance, are saved with an everlasting salvation, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, whose merits and righteousness, to fit them for the glorious change, are personally and effectually applied by the Holy Ghost.

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

And lastly, the opinion that infant salvation is based on any of the conditions prescribed, is horrible

September 24, 2021 Leave a comment

And lastly, the opinion that infant salvation is based on any of the conditions prescribed, and advocated, by pedobaptists, is horrible, on another account. It supposes that only those who are baptized, and in the church, are saved! What becomes of all the unbaptized who die in infancy? They of course must be consigned to eternal death! How countless the multitudes of children who go into the eternal world unbaptized! This is true of many, very many, in Christian lands; and in Pagan, and Mohammedan countries, it is true of all. If Pedobaptist doctrines on this subject be true, untold millions of infants are damned! They could not be saved without “the merits of Christ’s life and death.” These are communicated to them only through baptism. They never were baptized. They are lost! But their doctrines are not true. They are, in themselves and in their results, wholly baseless. They are repugnant to every benevolent feeling of the soul. Never did the human mind conceive of sentiments more absurd and revolting.

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

A further condition for infant salvation among paedobaptist

September 17, 2021 Leave a comment

But further. The supposition that their salvation is dependent on any such conditions is an impeachment of the righteous justice of God. It is predicated on the supposition that he holds the dying child responsible for proceedings of which it can have no knowledge, and over which it can exercise no possible control. Whether it is baptized or not, depends entirely upon its parents, friends, and ministers. Even if it were obligatory, it would be their duty, not the child’s. But it is the child that is to be saved, or lost. Shall the child be lost, because its parents were unfaithful, or unbelieving, or because the minister did not, or could not do his duty? The conclusion is nothing less than to charge God in the face of heaven, with cruelty, and injustice.

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 condition of the salvation of infants

September 10, 2021 Leave a comment

Another condition of the salvation of infants proclaimed by all Pedobaptists, is, as we have seen, their baptism.

This, I remark, is fully as unscriptural, unreasonable, and absurd, as the other. What peculiar power is there in baptism, that with it they will be saved, and without it they will be lost? Is it the medium through which are conveyed to the child “the merits of the life and death of Christ?” Is the cleansing efficacy of the Holy Spirit given in baptism? Impossible! These blessings are never in any case, so conveyed, either to an infant, or to a believer. Grace and salvation are confined to and conferred by no ordinances whatever. They are always given to dying infants, and to believing adults, by the direct action of God the Holy Ghost. The salvation of infants is in no way dependent on their baptism.

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 of the conditions for infant salvation

September 3, 2021 Leave a comment

We have now seen that the whole Pedobaptist world make the salvation of infants conditional, and consign to destruction all those in whom these conditions are not fulfilled.

One of these conditions is, as we have seen, that they be within “the pale of the church.” But where, in the word of God, can the authority be found to sustain this necessity for their church membership? None whatever exists. It is, besides, unreasonable in itself. The church was organized for special purposes, connected with the preservation of the Christian character, the conversion of sinners, and the extension of the gospel among men. Only those, therefore, may enter it who are qualified to enjoy its blessings, and to perform the duties involved. You might as well tell me that it is necessary or beneficial to enlist infants to fight in our armies, as that it is advantageous to baptize them into our churches. Because the church sustains the character indicated, it is invariably required for admission that men give evidence of repentance for sin, faith in Christ, and a voluntary and cheerful obedience to all the demands of the gospel. No other class of persons can either receive good, or do good, in the visible church. The membership of infants can therefore neither benefit them, nor the church. And what advantage can they derive from the ordinances? They were instituted to designate believers, and to strengthen and confirm their faith. They never were enjoined upon infants. They are no more obligatory upon them than are repentance and faith. On such as possess no ability, rests no responsibility. God imposes no duty upon those to whom he has given no capacity to perform it. The church was not designed for infants. It is no place for infants. Their non-performance of obligations resting only upon adults, can never interpose a barrier in the way of their acceptance with God. The supposition that the church membership of infants is a condition of their salvation, is unscriptural, unreasonable, absurd, and not to be credited.

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

The Presbyterian doctrine of infant salvation

We will now pay our respects to the doctrines on the subject, of Presbyterians, and other Calvinists.

These doctrines are set forth in the Westminster Confession of Faith, and Catechisms. We notice the following passages:

“The visible church” “consists of all those throughout the world, that profess the true religion, together with their children,” “and is the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.”[123]

It follows, of course, necessarily, that the children of those who do not “profess the true religion” and such, in their estimation, are the children of ninety-nine hundredths of the whole human race; are not of “the house and family of God;” are not in the church; are not to be baptized, and, for them “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation!” But Calvinists also tell us that they confer “benefits” upon the children they baptize. What are these benefits? The Confession answers:

“Although it be a great sin to contemn, or neglect this ordinance, yet grace, and salvation, are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, [since there may be some unknown extraordinary possibility of salvation] or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated,” [since some of the infants thus “sealed,” may turn out to be of the “non-elect.”]

“The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; [all its sanctifying effects may not instantly be imparted] yet notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, [conveyed] and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto [if they be elect] according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his own appointed time.”[124]

The grace promised, is conferred upon the infant by the Holy Ghost, in its baptism! What is the grace promised? We have the answer in the Catechism. It is

“The engrafting into” Christ; “the remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit;” “adoption, and resurrection unto eternal life.”[125]

These constitute “the grace promised,” and they are all, according to Presbyterians, and their kindred sects, given to infants in their baptism! Such infants, and only such, are in the church; and out of the church, “there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” Thus we have an exposition of Calvinistic doctrines on the subject. They hold baptism to be the medium through which, to the infant who receives it, are conveyed “the merits of Christ’s death;” the blessings of grace and salvation! Again we have precisely the same old Popish teachings maintained by all the other sects of Pedobaptists. We have also, a like falsification of the true scripture doctrine of infant salvation.

Those who study the several Pedobaptist Standards, and other authorities on this subject, must be struck with the fact that they frequently speak of “the ordinary way” of salvation, and of the “ordinary possibility of salvation!” What do they mean by such language? Do they intend to teach their people that there may be some other way of salvation than that which God has revealed in his word? Has not Jehovah himself told them that, apart from Christ Jesus,

“there is none other name given under heaven among men, whereby we must be saved?” (Acts 4:2.)

There is but one way of salvation. Infants are saved in the same way that all others of the redeemed are saved, by the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Am I told that the statements presented from the books may be true as to them, but after all, do not correctly represent the actual faith of the several communities involved? Is it affirmed that they do not, especially among us, credit this doctrine of baptismal efficacy, nor believe that baptism is necessary to the salvation of infants? If not, they do not believe their books! Why, then, do they continue to print and circulate these books, and to declare that they do believe them, heartily? If not, they do not believe their teachers! Why do they still hear, and sustain, and obey them? Say you they do not believe their own avowed baptismal doctrines? Why, then, do they still baptize their children? Why are they so alarmed when their children are in danger of dying without baptism? Why are they so impatient of any argument against infant baptism? Why this ceaseless effort to keep up infant baptism? Why all this, and much more, if they do not believe that their baptism has some sort of connection with the salvation of infants? Individuals among them are doubtless exceptions, but the masses still hold infant baptism as a condition of infant salvation. Their Standards teach it; their fathers believed it; they themselves cherish the same faith, more or less explicitly.

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

Methodist doctrine on infant salvation

But we will try their opinions by a surer and more tangible standard. What do our Methodist brethren teach on the subject?

The answer is found in the “Doctrinal Tracts,” written by Mr. Wesley himself, and published by order of the “General Conference,” as an authoritative exposition of Methodism. I invite you to examine the following passages: “What are the benefits,” says Mr. Wesley,

“we receive by baptism, is the next point to be considered. And the first of these is the washing away of original sin, by the application of Christ’s death. That we are all born under the guilt of Adam’s sin, and that all sin deserves eternal misery, was the unanimous sense of the ancient church, and is expressed in the ninth article of our own. And the scripture asserts that we were shapen in iniquity, and in sin did our mothers conceive us; that we were all by nature the children of wrath, and dead in trespasses and sins; that in Adam all die; that by one man’s disobedience all were made sinners; that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, which came upon all men, because all had sinned. This plainly includes infants, for they too die; therefore they have sinned; but not by actual sin, therefore by original sin, else what need have they of the death of Christ? Yea, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned actually, according to the similitude of Adam’s transgression. This, which can relate to infants only, is a clear proof that the whole race of mankind are obnoxious both to the guilt and punishment of Adam’s transgression. But as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

“And the virtue of that free gift, the merits of Christ’s life and death, are applied to us in baptism.”

Here you have a plain statement. Mr. Wesley proves very clearly, that all infants inherit sin from Adam, and are redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ. But where is the proof that “the merits of his life and death are applied to them in baptism?” None is produced. The scriptures contain none. But still proof is offered, satisfactory to Mr. Wesley. Hear him. “The church declares in the rubric,” that “it is certain, by God’s word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are saved.” “Here”, he adds, “it is plainly taught that infants” “can be saved only by the merit of Christ’s death, and that this merit is to be applied in baptism.”[121] The proof, then, is in the rubric! It is not in the Bible. Christ’s merits can only be applied to infants by baptism! Is not the conclusion strangely absurd that, after having redeemed all children who die in infancy by his blood, Messiah should still be dependent for the application of his merits to them, and without which they cannot be saved, upon the contingency of their baptism! If not baptized, they remain corrupt and sinful, because his merits and righteousness can in no other way be applied to them. Corrupt and sinful beings must be lost. Unbaptized children die corrupt and sinful beings. Therefore, according to Mr. Wesley, unbaptized children must be lost. In another place the Father of Methodism gives us the following argument:

“If infants are guilty of original sin, then they are proper subjects of baptism, seeing, in the ordinary way, they cannot be saved unless this be washed away in baptism. Infants need to be washed from original sin. Therefore they are proper subjects for baptism.”[122]

And this is the authorized and established doctrine of the whole Methodist church, English and American, on the subject of infant salvation! It is approved by the people, and published for their instruction and guidance by the General Conference! Our Methodist brethren, therefore, believe that “The virtues of Christ’s free gift, the merits of his life and death, are applied to infants in baptism;” that “Infants can be saved only by the merit of Christ’s death, and this merit is to be applied in baptism;” that “They cannot, in the ordinary way, be saved unless their original sin be washed away in baptism.” And what is this but the same old dogma, in substance, held by the Papists, the Lutherans, and the Episcopalians? They all teach that “Baptism represents pardon, sanctification, and salvation, through Jesus Christ; and that it always conveys the grace which it represents.” What a revolting subversion we here have of the scripture doctrine of infant salvation!

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

The uncovenanted mercies of God?

Roman Catholics, as is well known, universally hold and teach that no child can be saved unless it is baptized, and within “the pale of the church.” The Fathers and Standards, of the Lutheran church, and the Episcopal church, all maintain the same doctrine. They insist that “baptism contains the grace which it represents,” and by its intrinsic efficacy conveys to the child that grace “ex opere operato.” Of these facts the amplest testimony has been given in the preceding chapters. The authorities there adduced need not be repeated. Their truth will, by all intelligent men, be readily admitted. In this country, however, some Lutherans, and Episcopalians, are evangelical. They surely do not receive the absurdities believed by their Fathers! Ask them, if you please. Will they answer you at all? If they do, will it not be in evasive terms? Some of them will perhaps be indignant, and tell you infants may be saved without baptism. Press them for an answer as to the grounds of their salvation.

They will respond thus: If, in such a case, infants are saved, it is “by the uncovenanted mercies of God.” Ah, “The uncovenanted mercies!” It may be so; and it may not! The matter is in their minds, at best, very doubtful! But Methodists, Presbyterians, and others of those classes, surely know better. They believe that all infants are saved, baptized, or not baptized. You can readily try their faith upon that question. One form of the experiment may be seen at almost any time. They scarcely know themselves what they believe on the subject. They will certainly resent the suspicion that they suppose infants may, under any circumstances, be lost. But let an unbaptized child of any of them, be sick, and in danger of death. The utmost trepidation arises. Appalling fears of some disastrous consequences fill the bosoms of parents, and friends. Alarm reigns. The little sufferer must not continue an hour “unsealed,” “uninitiated.” The minister is sent for, and the child is baptized at midnight! The baptism quiets every foreboding, and is followed immediately by calmness, and resignation! Why all this apprehension, and haste? What if it should die—if die it must, without baptism? Can it suffer possible harm on that account? Ah! disguise it as you may, the old superstition is still in their hearts. They believe, and they thus evince the fact, that there is in baptism, some sort of a mysterious sacramental efficacy, that affects for good, the destiny of the child in another world!

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