Infant Baptism

 “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” 

Acts 2:39

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.”

1 Cor. 7:14

“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matt 19:14

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Subsections

On the Salvation of Infants in & without the Church

Historic Quotes that the Children of Professing Believers are to be Baptized Because they are Outwardly in the Covenant

Are people baptized because they are in the Covenant or are they in the Covenant because they are baptized?  They are baptized because they are in the Covenant.

The Baptism of the Children of Adherents

An Adherent is someone who is a baptized church member but does not partake of the Lord’s Supper.

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Order of Contents

Articles
Booklet
Books
Infant Baptism & Justification?
Can Infants Have Faith?
On Gen. 17:14
Do Young People Remain Part of the Church when they Grow Up, but do not
.        come to the Lord’s Table?

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Articles 

1600’s

Witsius, Herman – ‘On the Efficacy and Utility of Baptism in the case of Elect Infants whose Parents are under the Covenant’  MJT 17 (2006) 121-190, Includes an introduction by Mark Beach.  Originally an appendix in William Marshall, Popery in The Full Corn, the Ear, and the Blade; or, The Doctrine of Baptism in the Popish, Episcopalian, and Congregational Churches; with a Defence of the Calvinistic or Presbyterian View (Edinburgh: Paton and Ritchie, 1852)

Witsius critiques and gives his own opinions as he surveys the many views on the topic from the era that preceded him.

“XXIII. But with regard to the place of regeneration there is greater difficulty.  On this part of the subject, I find four distinct opinions among theologians.  Some think that regeneration takes place at different periods of time—it may be before, it may be at, or it may be after
baptism. Others place it uniformly before baptism. Others teach that infants are baptized unto future regeneration, being incapable of it at the
time.  Indeed, many contend that God usually confers regeneration upon infants in the very act and moment of baptism.  Let us look at the arguments of each class, and subject them to an impartial examination.

XXIV. That in the dispensation of his saving grace God is restricted to no particular period of time will be admitted by every person who entertains a becoming reverence for his supreme and almighty
dominion.  The sole question is: What he may have prescribed to himself in the exercise of his unlimited freedom, or may have revealed in his
Word, or made manifest by experience?” – p. 142

On pp. 132-137 Witsius critiques the English view of John Davenant, the Scottish, Aberdeen view of William Forbes and others, that:

“…a certain kind of regeneration and justification is not only signified but bestowed upon all the infants of covenanted persons without exception [involving the forgiveness of their original sin], although it may not be infallibly connected with salvation inasmuch as they may fall from it by their own sin after they have grown up.”

Witsius gives his own view in sections 31-32, pp. 150-151, which we do not agree with, that:

“There can be little doubt that this doctrine of the regeneration of infants, at least according to the judgment of charity concerning individuals, is the received view of the Belgic church…

…who hold that the initial regeneration of elect infants under the covenant precedes their baptism. I acknowledge that with those who maintain this opinion I am so far at one.”

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1800’s

Cunningham, William – Infant Baptism  1863, p. 144, 10 pp.

Hodge, Charles – The Subjects of Baptism  1861, from The Princeton Review, volume 33

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Booklet 

Kayser, Phillip – Seven Biblical Principles that Call for Infant Baptism  1990  52 pp.

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Books

1600’s

Harrison, Michael – Infant Baptism God’s ordinance, or, Clear Proof that all the Children of Believing Parents are in the Covenant of Grace and have as much a right to baptism the now seal of the covenant, as the infant seed of the Jews had to circumcision, the then seal of the covenant  1694  58 pp.

Harrison was reformed.

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1800’s

Miller, Samuel – Infant Baptism Scriptural and Reasonable, and Baptism by Sprinkling, part 1part 2part 3 & 4  Buy  1835  163 pp.

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Infant Baptism & Justification?

Witsius, Herman – pp. 132-137 of ‘On the Efficacy and Utility of Baptism in the case of Elect Infants whose Parents are under the Covenant’  MJT 17 (2006).  Originally an appendix in William Marshall, Popery in The Full Corn, the Ear, and the Blade; or, The Doctrine of Baptism in the Popish, Episcopalian, and Congregational Churches; with a Defence of the Calvinistic or Presbyterian View (Edinburgh: Paton and Ritchie, 1852)

Witsius critiques the English view of John Davenant, the Scottish, Aberdeen view of William Forbes and others, that:

“…a certain kind of regeneration and justification is not only signified but bestowed upon all the infants of covenanted persons without exception [involving the forgiveness of their original sin], although it may not be infallibly connected with salvation inasmuch as they may fall from it by their own sin after they have grown up.”

Edwards, John – ‘The Distinction used by some Late Divines of Justification at Baptism and Justification at the Day of Judgment, is Groundless’  1708  8 pp.  in The Doctrine of Faith and Justification set in a True Light, Part 3, ch. 4, pp. 433-441

Edwards was an important, early 1700’s, reformed, Anglican.

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Can Infants have Faith?

Turretin, Francis – The Faith of Infants  †1687  21 paragraphs

This is the best article on the topic.  Turretin says yes and no, and distinguishes.

Lutherans go too far in giving infants full fledged adult faith.  Anabaptists go too far in denying any possibility of faith whatsoever in infants.  

Turretin argues the historic reformed view that infants are capable according to their infant nature, to trust in the sense of divinity stamped on their souls.  They may have a seed-form of faith, which, if present savingly by God’s regeneration, will blossom into trusting the Son of God to save them from their sins when they can understand and are taught such.

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On Gen. 17:14

Samuel Rutherford

A Free Disputation...  (1649), p. 299

“I confess when the fault is ceremonial, though the punishment be real, as the cutting off of an infant not circumcised [Gen. 17:14], and some punishments inflicted on the leper, it is not reason the Law should oblige us in the New Testament, either as touching the punishment or the degree.

Because these punishments for typical faults are ordained to teach rather than to be punishments, and the Magistrate by no light of nature could make laws against unbaptized infants.”

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Do Young People Remain Part of the Church when they Grow Up, but do not Come to the Lord’s Table?

Samuel Rutherford

A Survey of the Survey of that Sum of Church-Discipline penned by Mr. Thomas Hooker…  wherein the way of the Churches of New England is now Re-examined  (London, 1658), Book 1, ch. 14, p. 57

“…hence we seek a warrant, why these who were once members of the visible Church and baptized, as the Answer to the 32 [a previously published congregationalist work] sayeth, and so [are] clean and holy, 1 Cor. 7:14; Rom. 11:16, (2) in covenant with God, Acts 2:38-39; Acts 15:14-15; Gen. 17:7; 2 Cor. 6:16-18, etc.  (3) and so redeemed by the blood of Christ and baptized into his body, 1 Cor. 12:13, even unto Christ, Gal. 3:17; Acts 2:38-39, when they come to age, are for no scandal unchurched, and because they cannot give evidence of real conversion, yet for 60 or 80 years, and to their dying day, are no more Church-members than pagans?

([Margin note:] Our [congregationalist] Brethren cast out of the Church these who were baptized in their infancy, and members thereof, because visibly non-regenerated.  What warrant for this censure?)”

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“If the children of believers were excluded from membership in the new covenant when they had been an integral part of the old covenant, Pentecost would have been a day of mass excommunication.”

Robert Letham
Systematic Theology, 15.3.2, 445-6

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Related Pages

Baptism

The Covenant of Grace

Historic Reformed Quotes on the Visible Church being Outwardly in the Covenant of Grace