On Household & 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

Children of Professing Believers are Baptized Because They are Outwardly in the
.      Covenant

On the Baptism of the Children of Adherents

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Order of Contents

Articles  10+
Books  12
Latin  2
Church History of  4

The Nature of Infant Baptism & Church Membership

The Conditionality of the Sign of Baptism
Can Infants Have Faith?
Infant Baptism & Justification?  Contra Davenant
How Infants of Professing Believers are Church Members
Gen. 17:14 & Being Cut Out of the Covenant
Sanctification of the Unbelieving Spouse  1 Cor. 7:14
Do Young People Remain Part of the Church when they Grow Up, but do
.     Not Come to the Lord’s Table?

On Baptizing Households:

Adopted Children
Older Children
Servants
A Wife


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Articles

1500’s

Calvin, John – Institutes

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1600’s

Marshall, Stephen – A Sermon of the Baptizing of Infants…  (London, 1644)  61 pp.

See also Marshall’s book on the topic two years later, below.

Stalham, John, John Newton & Enoch Grey – The Sum of a Conference at Terling in…  1643: held between 3 Ministers…  Pleading for Infants’ Baptism, & 2 Catabaptists…  (London: 1644)  36 pp.  The rest of the large volume contains other treatises by Stalham on the atonement and the Quakers.

Lyford, William – An Apology for our Public Ministery & Infant-Baptism, written Some Years Ago…  (London, 1652)  46 pp.

Rutherford, Samuel – The Covenant of Life Opened, or a Treatise of the Covenant of Grace...  (London, 1655), pt. 1

ch. 13, ‘There are Two Sorts of Covenanting: one external, professed, visible, conditional, another internal, real, absolute, and the differences betwixt them.  2. Infants [are] external∣ly in Covenant under the New Testament  3. Some Questi∣ons touching Infants’, pp. 72-95

ch. 14, ‘Considerations of the Arguments from Gen. 17; Mk. 10:15-16; Lk. 18; Mt. 19; Rom. 11, for Infant Baptism’, pp. 95-117

Turretin, Francis – Question 20, ‘Should the infants of covenanted believers be baptized?  We affirm against the Anabaptists.’, sections 4911182126  in Institutes  (P&R), vol. 3, 19th Topic, ‘The Sacraments’, pp. 414-21

Witsius, Herman – ‘On the Efficacy & Utility of Baptism in the Case of Elect Infants whose Parents are Under the Covenant’  (Utrecht, 1693)  in MJT 17 (2006), pp. 121-90, Includes an introduction by Mark Beach.  Originally an appendix in William Marshall, Popery in The Full Corn, the Ear & the Blade; or, The Doctrine of Baptism in the Popish, Episcopalian & 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.”

Wallis, John – A Defense of Infant-Baptism in Answer to a Letter (here Recited) from an Anti-pædobaptist  (Oxford, 1697)  24 pp.

Wallis (1616–1703) was a non-voting scribe at the Westminster Assembly.

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1800’s

Hodge, Charles – ‘The Subjects of Baptism’  The Princeton Review, vol. 33 (1863)  at WestminsterConfession.org

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2000’s

Barth, Paul – ‘Paedo-Baptism, Yes; Paedo-Communion, No’  (2022)  34 paragraphs


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Books

1600’s

Blake, Thomas

Infants’ Baptism Freed from Antichristianism…  in the Third [Part], Arguments brought by [Stephen] Marshall & others for Baptism of Infants are Vindicated & Defended  (London, 1645)  128 pp.  no ToC

Blake (1597?–1657) was an English English puritan clergyman and controversialist of moderate Presbyterian sympathies.  He disputed in print with Richard Baxter over admission to baptism and the Lords Supper.

chs. 45-60  of Vindiciæ Foederis, or a Treatise of the Covenant of God…  (London, 1658)  ToC

Marshall, Stephen – A Defence of Infant-Baptism: in Answer to Two Treatises…  lately published by Mr. John Tombes.  Wherein that Controversy is Fully Discussed, the Ancient & Generally Received Use of it from the Apostles’ Days, until the Anabaptists Sprung up in Germany, Manifested…  (London, 1646)  256 pp.  Index  Scripture Index

Baillie, Robert – Anabaptism, the True Fountain of Independency, Brownism, Antinomianism, Familism & Most of the Other Errors (which for the Time do Trouble the Church of England) Unsealed. Also the Questions of Paedobaptism & Dipping Handled from Scripture. In a Second Part of the Dissuasive from the Errors of the Time  (London, 1647)  179 pp.  ToC

Baillie was a Scottish covenanter and a Westminster divine.

Fuller, Thomas – The Infants’ Advocate of Circumcision on Jewish [Children] & Baptism on Christian Children  (London, 1653)  24o pp.  IA

Carter, William – The Covenant of God with Abraham, Opened, wherein 1. The Duty of Infant-Baptism is Cleared. 2. Something Added Concerning the Sabbath, and the Nature & Increase of the Kingdom of Christ…  on Heb. 6:13-16  in The Covenant of God with Abraham Opened…  Together with a Short Discourse concerning the Manifestations of God unto his People in the Last Days  (London, 1654), pp. 6-66

Carter was a Westminster divine.

Flavel, John – Vindiciæ legis & fœderis [A Vindication of the Law & the Covenant]: or a Reply to Mr. Philip Cary’s Solemn Call, wherein he Pretends to Answer All the Arguments…  for the Right of Believers’ Infants to Baptism, by Proving the Law at Sinai & the Covenant of Circumcision with Abraham were the very same with Adam’s Covenant of Works, & that Because the Gospel-Covenant is Absolute  (London, 1690)  140 pp.

Flavel was an English puritan and presbyterian.

Mence, Francis – Vindiciae Foederis [a Vindication of the Covenant], or, A Vindication of the Interest that the Children of Believers, as such, have in the Covenant of Grace with their Parents, under the Gospel-Dispensation: being the Substance of Two Sermons…  also Some Seasonable Reflections upon Various Unsound & Cruel Passages taken forth of Two Furious Books of Mr. H. Collins, Printed Against Infants-Baptism  (London, 1694)  170 pp.  IA  on Acts 2:39

Harrison, Michael – Infant Baptism God’s Ordinance, or, Clear Proof that All the Children of Believing Parents are in the Covenant of Grace & 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  (London, 1694)  58 pp.  ToC

Harrison was a reformed English minister.

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1700’s

Wall, William – A Conference between Two Men that had Doubts about Infant-Baptism  (2nd ed. 1708; London, 1812)  85 pp.  ToC

Wall (1647–1728) was an Anglican minister, known for his history of infant baptism, below.

Taylor, Nathaniel – Two Brief Discourses: one concerning Infant-Baptism & the other concerning the Children of Holy Parents…  2nd ed.  (London, 1718)  57 pp.  no ToC

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1800’s

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

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1900’s

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


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Latin

1500’s

Bucer, Martin – What ought to be Thought of the Baptism of Infants according to the Scriptures of God is Shaken Out…  (Argentorati, 1533)  no page numbering  no ToC

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1600’s

Hubner, Johann Rudolph – A Theological Disputation on the Baptism of Infants, to the Place, Mt. 28:19  (Bern, 1671)

Hübner (-1692) was a reformed professor of Hebrew and theology at Bern, Switzerland.


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The Church History of Infant Baptism

On the Whole of Church History

Article

Cunningham, William – ‘Infant Baptism’  10 pp.  in Historical Theology, vol. 2  (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1863), pp. 144-54

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Books

Wall, William – The History of Infant-Baptism, together with Mr. Gale’s Reflections & Dr. Wall’s Defence, vol. 1 (History of Infant Baptism), 2 (Reflections & Defence)  (1705; Oxford Univ. Press, 1862)  ToC 1, 2  Index  Wall’s Defense starts here (no ToC).

Wall (1647–1728) was an Anglican minister, known for this work.

Wikipedia:  “David Russen had written an anti-Baptist tract entitled Fundamentals without Foundation in 1703, and this had been answered by the Baptist Joseph Stennett in An Answer to Mr. David Russen’s Book in 1704.  Wall, who knew and respected Stennett, consulted with him and then answered with A History of Infant Baptism.  Wall was answered in turn by John Gale in Reflections on Mr. Wall’s History in 1711.

Wall’s book was enormously successful.  He cited numerous patristic sources for the practice of infant baptism and yet pleaded with his opponents not to allow such a minor point to tear the church apart.  His work was expanded in a second edition in 1707 and a third edition of 1720.  Oxford awarded him the Doctor of divinity degree in 1720 for the work, and John Wesley excerpted it in his own works on the question.  Despite being the primary voice against Baptist causes, Wall was sincere in his wishes for unity, and he met with his opponent, Mr. Gale, in 1719.”

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On the Early Church

Jeremias, Joachim

Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries  trans. David Cairns  (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962)  110 pp.  ToC

Jeremias (1900–1979) was a liberal, German, Lutheran scholar of Near Eastern Studies and university professor of New Testament studies.

In these important pieces, Jeremias defends from the N.T. and early Church history that the apostolic Church baptized infants, mainly from historical considerations.  Jeremias first published this work, then Kurt Aland, another liberal, German scholar, sought to prove the opposite in his:

Did the Early Church Baptize Infants? [No]  trans. G.R. Beasley-Murray  (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1963)  119 pp.  ToC

In Aland’s preface, he says that Jeremias’s work:

“…appeared to make this position [of the NT Church practicing infant baptism] impregnable.  It was expounded in brilliant style; in it Jeremias utilized everything known to exist in the sources, as well as in more recent literature, and he summarized all the arguments that have been brought into play up to the present.”

Aland’s work contains an ‘Introduction’ by G.R. Beasley-Murray that summarizes the baptismal controversy in the British scene leading up to the exchange between Jeremias and Aland.

Aland, despite his historical conclusion, yet “regards the practice of infant baptism in the Church today as both needful and legitimate”.  His conclusion as to the historical matter is:

“…that infant baptism is certainly provable only from the third century and that its earliest literary traces belong to the outgoings of the second century, cannot be contested from the sources.”

Jeremias, not convinced, in response below yet further argued for the practice of infant baptism in the apostolic Church contra Aland.  Jeremias, in his Preface below, says that:

“…there is no defence for the older conception, revived by Aland, that up to the end of the second century…  children were not baptized until a mature age.  Not only does this conception lack support from the sources, but…  it arose out of an understanding of baptism which came to be adopted during the second century and which is incompatible with that of the New Testament.”

The Origins of Infant Baptism; a Further Study in Reply to Kurt Aland  (Naperville, IL: Alec R. Allenson, 1963)  90 pp.  ToC

Jeremias stated, with respect to Church history, “that direct evidence for the baptism of children startes only with Tertullian.”  Jeremias says that the state of the question is, “What was the practice of the Church up to AD 200?  That is the question on which everything turns.”  Jeremias seeks to use indirect evidence regarding this to historically establish his case.


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The Nature of Infant Baptism & Church Membership

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On the Conditionality of the Sign of Baptism & How it Seals

Quotes

1600’s

Lucas Trelcatius

Common Places…, Distinction 4, in ‘Defense of the End of a Sacrament’, p. 330

“The sealing of God’s promises has respect either unto the faith of the Covenant [objectively], or unto the faith of them that are in the Covenant [subjectively].

In infants, the sealing of God’s promise is made properly, in respect of the faith of the Covenant, but in them that are of ripe years, in respect of their faith in the Covenant.”

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Anthony Walaeus

Synposis of a Purer Theology  (Brill, 2020), vol. 3, Disputation 44, ‘On the Sacrament of Baptism’, sections 31-32, p. 155

“Therefore, when we say that the proper power of outward baptism resides in being a seal, we mean two things: firstly, that it makes more certain the promised grace that the principal cause has conferred or is to confer, and secondly that it strengthens and increases that grace.

But since that promise is not absolute but linked to the condition of faith and repentance, it follows that the grace is sealed only to those who believe and repent, and consequently do not use the signs in a unworthy manner, as the apostle says in 1 Corinthians 11:29.

In this regard we grant that this sacrament–just like the other ones–is also exhibitive of the thing that is promised, because in the lawful and worthy use of this sacrament these things that are promised are through the Holy Spirit not merely offered to believers but they are in fact exhibited to and conferred upon them.  For God is truthful in sealing his promises, and our sacraments are not supplements of a letter that kills, but of the life-giving Spirit.”


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Can Infants have Faith?

Articles

1600’s

Bucanus, William – ‘Have Infants Actual Faith?’  in Institutes…  (London, 1606), Place 29, ‘Of Faith’, pp. 296-7

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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2000’s

Barth, Paul – ‘Paedo-Baptism, Yes; Paedo-Communion, No’  (2022)  32 paragraphs

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Historical Theology

Articles

Grundler, Otto – ‘From Seed to Fruition: Calvin’s Notion of the semen fidei & Its Aftermath in Reformed Orthodoxy’  Ref  in eds. Elsie Anne McKee & Brian G. Armstrong, Probing the Reformed Tradition: Historical Studies in Honor of Edward A. Dowey, Jr.  (Westminster John Knox Press, 1989)  461 pp.

Wisse, Maarten – Habitus Fidei: an Essay on the History of a Concept’  Scottish Journal of Theology 56(2) (2003): pp. 172–89

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Quote

1900’s

Richard Muller

Dictionary of Latin & Greek Theological Terms  (Baker, 1985), p. 278

semen fidei:

seed of faith; the ground or beginning of personal faith, brought about or implanted by the work of the Spirit in regeneration.  Some of the Protestant scholastics use semen fidei as a synonym for the disposition of or capacity for faith, the habitus fidei (q.v.); others make the semen fidei more basic and regard the disposition, or habitus (q.v.), of faith as a fully developed capacity arising out of the seed, or semen.”


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Infant Baptism & Justification?  Contra Davenant

Articles

1600’s

Burgess, Anthony – pp. 143-46  of Sermon 16, ‘An Examination of Some Distinctions about Justification, much Controverted by Several Authors’  in The True Doctrine of Justification Asserted & Vindicated…  (London, 1654)

Burgess (d. 1664) was an Anglican clergyman (a rector) and a Westminster divine who did not conform in 1662.

Burgess says on p. 144 that Davenant and Ward “introduce a baptismal justification”, which sheds light on the novelty of Davenant’s position in his historical context.  Burgess himself, later in that same paragraph affirms a certain baptismal justification of infants, however he states that it must be of the same kind as adult justification from which one cannot fall away.  Despite Burgess’s lack of further qualification in this paragraph, yet in the subsequent paragraphs he goes on to offer views, with certain affirming statements, that appear to heavily qualify his own view, namely that such a baptismal justification is only for elect infants, in time, through faith in what baptism signifies, etc., which, in the end, appears to be very much inline with the statements of the WCF.

Baxter, Richard – An Appendix, being Some Brief Animadversions on a Tractate Lately Published by Mr. Thomas Bedford, & Honored with the Great Names & Pretended Consent of Famous, Learned, Judicious Davenant & Ussher, with an Epistle of Mr. Cranford, & a Tractate of Dr. [Samuel] Ward…  to Plain Scripture Proof of Infants’ Church-Membership & Baptism: being the Arguments Prepared for (& Partly Managed in) the Public Dispute with Mr. Tombes at Bewdley on the First Day of Jan. 1649  (London, 1656), pp. 287-338

“…I lately met with the tractate here examined.  It came to me as under Davenant’s name…  I soon perceived the hook…  I resolved to follow after with my household retinue (as Abraham to rescue Lot) rather than stand still and see the name and excellent labors of such a prince in Israel to be enslaved to attend the service of such an erroneous design.” – Premonition to the Reader, p. 289

Witsius, Herman – pp. 132-37 of ‘On the Efficacy & 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 view of John Davenant (English), the view of William Forbes (Scottish, in Aberdeen) 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.”

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1700’s

Edwards, John – ‘The Distinction Used by Some Late Divines of Justification at Baptism & 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 minister.

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Quotes

John Davenant

Letter to Samuel Ward  in Morris Fuller, The Life, Letters & Writings of John Davenant...  (London, 1897), p. 329

“Concerning your determination about the effect of baptism (unless there were great necessity of defending yourself), I would not advise you to set that foot controversy on foot.  Though it be the opinion of Antiquity, and to me appears more probable than the contrary, yet at this time when the Arminians draw so close one to another, it is not convenient to be at open controversies amonst ourselves.”

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John Tombes

Anti-Pædobaptism, or, The Second Part of the Full Review of the Dispute Concerning Infant-Baptism...  (London, 1654), pp. 220-21.  Tombes was an English baptist.

“What Mr. [Thomas] Bedford [d. 1653] has produced for the efficacy of baptism has been answered by Mr. [Richard] Baxter in his Appendix to his Plain Scripture, etc. [1651-1656]…  Dr. [Cornelius] Burges, his Treatise of Baptismal Regeneration [1629], has been freely censured by many…

And therefore I deny baptism to be the remedy of original sin, or the cause of regeneration, or that Christ intended to assign the use to baptism to heal original sin, or to testify the freedom from it without actual [sin].  These things have been delivered by Augustine and taught by the Romanists and Lutherans, but by many other Protestants disclaimed and refuted; and therefore Mr. Stephens, Mr. [James?] Cranford [d. 1657], Mr. Bedford, etc. in using this argument do but symbolize with the Papists, and revive what many Protestants of best note have exploded.

([Errata, p. 341:] What Dr. [Samuel] Ward and Dr. [John] Davenant have said for regeneration and justification of infants by baptism has been accurately examined and enervated by Mr. Gataker in Latin.)”

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For further relevant references, see those of Richard Baxter on this search-results list.

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Latin Books

Gataker, Thomas & Samuel Ward – ‘A Disquisition Privately Held on the Power & Efficacy of Infant Baptism’  (London, 1652)  271 pp.

Gataker (1574–1654) was an Anglican clergyman (rector), convinced episcopalian, was against the Solemn League & Covenat, and was a Westminster divine.

Thomas Long (1621-1707), an Anglican prebendary, said that “by a letter impleading Davenant’s cause, I was the occasion of printing good Mr. Gataker’s Answer to him;” (Mr. Hales’s Treatise of Schism Examined London, 1678, p. 217)

The layout is that first Ward proposes a thesis, then Gataker takes an exception to it, then Ward responds, then Gataker replies; then this process repeats.

Ward opens the debate saying, “All baptized infants are without doubt justified.”  Gataker then makes an exception, and the responses follow.

Gataker, Thomas – ‘Some Strictures Premitted on the Epistle of Dr. John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury’  115 pp.  appended to Davenant’s letter with separate pagination in An Epistle of the Reverend Man, John Davenant, Bishop of Salisbury, to the Celebrated Man, Lord Samuel Ward, of the College in the Academy of Cambridge in the Prefect of Sidney…  One with Some Strictures on the Same  (London: 1654)

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How Infants of Professors are Church Members

Quote

George Gillespie

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (1641; Edinburgh, 1646), 2nd part, ch. 11, p. 62

“We may consider a visible Church either metaphysically or politically.  It is one thing to consider men as living creatures endued with reason; another thing to consider them as magistrates, masters, fathers, children, servants, etc.  So is it one thing to consider a visible Church as a society of men and women separated from the blind world by divine vocation [calling], and professing together the gospel of Jesus Christ; and another thing to consider it as a political body, in which the power of spiritual government and jurisdiction is exercised–some governing and some governed.

These are very different considerations; for first, a visible Church being taken entitatively or metaphysically, her members do ordinarily communicate together in those holy things which fall under the power of order, which I may call sacra mystica [sacred, mystical rites]; but being taken politically, her members communicate together in such holy things as fall within the compass of the power of jurisdiction, which I may call sacra politica [sacred politics].

Secondly, infants under age, being initiated in baptism, are actually members of the Church in the former consideration, but potentially only in the latter; for they neither govern, nor yet have the use of reason to be subject and obedient to those that do govern.”


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On Gen. 17:14 & being Cut Out of the Covenant

Quote

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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On the Sanctification of the Unbelieving Spouse, 1 Cor. 7:14

“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

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Quote

Lyford, William

An Apology for our Public Ministery & Infant-Baptism, written Some Years Ago…  (London, 1652), pp. 42-44

“Objection [from a baptist]:  The sanctification of the wife is but a civil sanctification in that place, i.e. she is sanctified to his use, that he ought not to put her away.  Again, the holiness there spoken of is a fruit of that sanctification of the wife, whereof it will follow, that seeing [as] the effect cannot be greater then the cause, the cause cannot produce a greater effect than itself, the cause being only a civil sanctification, the holiness of the children must be the same; thus argues Thomas Collier.

Answer 1:  The question [in the text] was, Whether the believer were polluted by his unbelieving wife?  The apostle says, ‘No’, quia pluris est pietas unius ad sanctificandum conjugium,quàm alterius impietas ad inquinandum, i.e. the faith of the believer is of greater force to sanctify their present cohabitation, than the unbelief of the other to pollute it.  This he proves from a greater effect and fruit of the husband’s faith, viz. the holiness of the children born of such a husband by such a woman.  The children are holy, not only civilly, as being born of lawful wedlock, but federally as being severed from all children of unbelievers by special prerogative, holy to the Lord, consecrated unto Him, whereas by nature they were aliens and unclean; according to that of Paul, Rom. 11:16, ‘if the root be holy, so are the branches.’

The faith of the believing party sanctifies the unbelieving wife to bear not only a lawful, but a holy seed; yea, it sanctifies the children and severs them from the common condition of other children, which are profane and unclean without the Church, without God in the world.

2. Note that the holiness of the child received from one of the parents believing is more than the sanctification of the wife by her believing husband, because such a wife is not taken into Covenant with her husband, but the child is; and therefore the apostle says not that such as is the sanctification of the wife, such is the holiness of the child: But thus, Such as is the holiness of the believing party, such is the child’s holiness in respect of Church-membership; and so the faith of the believing husband is the cause of both these effects, viz. That his coupling with his wife is not impure, and also that his children are holy: And this latter [is] an evidence of the former.  And thus the holiness of the child is a sign of the mother’s sanctification to holy cohabitation, and an effect of the father’s faith by virtue of God’s Covenant.

To have said, ‘That their children were lawful’, was no more than to have said, ‘That their marriage was lawful’, which was not the question; But to say, that the children of their lawful marriage were holy, this did infer not only the lawfulness of their marriage but the sanctified use: As Mr Baily has well observed, Of Anabaptism, p. 138.

3. Lastly, If by holy, be only meant a civil holiness, then on the contray, by ‘unclean’, must be meant a civil uncleanness.  But when Paul says (else were your children unclean) his intent is not to make them all as an unclean birth and impure offspring, which were born at Corinth of unbelieving parents, but to show that they are not comprehended within God’s Covenant: And so when he says ‘but now are they holy’, he notes some preeminence of the children of Christians above the heathens’ children: Though in civil respects, in respect of a lawful birth, both sorts of children were equal, yet that civil holiness being common to both, there is a preeminence of the Christian’s child above the heathen’s.

The child of an infidel at Corinth is today unclean and the next day holy in case his parents turn Christians; And what’s the reason of this so sudden alteration?  It must needs be in regard of the Covenant into which the party now believing is taken with his children, his unbelieving neighbor with his children still remaining unclean: Hence I conclude with Calvin, in location, Seeing our children are exempted from the common condition of lost mankind, and admitted into God’s Church and family, Cur eos a signo arceamus? upon what reason can we drive them from the sign of their admittance?”

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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?

Quote

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), bk. 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 [Questions, a previously published congregationalist work] says, 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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On Baptizing Households

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On Baptizing Adopted Children

Quote

1600’s

Anthony Walaeus

Synopsis of a Purer Theology  (1625; Brill, 2020), vol. 2, Disputation 44, ‘On the Sacrament of Baptism’, section 49, p. 165

“But we do exclude from baptism the children of those who clearly are strangers to the covenant, such as the children of heathens, Muslims, Jews, and of similar people…  And for this reason we should leave them–like foreigners–to the judgement of God…  unless they happen through lawful adoption or through the just and properly-designated status of slaved to be enrolled and taken up into the families of believers as though belonging to them.†

For in this case many Reformed churches do baptize those children, because they deem that God has adopted them into the fellowship of his covenant in this manner, that is to say by the covenant of Genesis 17:12-13, which in the early church was so far beyond debate that from it Augustine on several occasions deduced a powerful argument against the Pelagians for election by grace. [On the Grace of Christ & on Original Sin 2.35 in NPNF1 5.249-50]

† This is a remarkable position, given the fact that the Synod of Dort had decided negatively on the issue in response to a question from East-India if it was allowed to baptize a child from pagan parents adopted into a Christian family.  At the synod, the professors and the delegates from Zeeland, Friesland and Utrecht did not object to baptism, together with the majority of foreign delegates, but the delegates from Holland and Gelderland objected because huamn adoption does not imply divine adoption.

Adopted children first had to profess faith and only then could be baptized, though as infants they could be commended to God’s gracious care by the laying-on of hands.  See Acta of the Synod of Dordt, eds. Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser, and Herman Selderhuis (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), 30-32.”


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On Baptizing Older Children

Quote

French Reformed Churches

Synod of Loudun (1659), ch. 10, ‘General Matters’, section 15, p. 553

“15.  Such as defer the baptizing of their children shall be sharply censured, according to the rigor of our discipline; and if any children are come unto years of discretion, and were never baptized, they shall first be catechized and well instructed in the principles of Christian religion before they be admitted unto baptism.”

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Articles

Beza, Theodore – Question 147, ‘But thinkest thou that there is no consideration to be had of the age of those that are to be baptized?’  in The Other Part of Christian Questions & Answers, which is Concerning the Sacraments…  (London, 1580)

Bucanus, William – ‘Are Persons of Years & Infants to be Admitted unto Baptism All after One Sort?’  in Institutions of Christian Religion Framed out of God’s Word…  (London, 1606), 47th Common Place, ‘Of Baptism’, p. 712


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On Baptizing Servants

Articles

Willet, Andrew – Question 30, ‘Whether the Servant might be Compelled to be Circumcized?’  in Hexapla in Genesin & Exodum...  (London, 1633), on Exodus, ch. 12, 3, The Explanation of Difficult Questions, pp. 129-30

Howe, George – Article III, ‘The Baptism of Servants’  in Southern Presbyterian Review, no. 1  (June 1847), pp. 63-102

Howe (1802-1883) was a Southern presbyterian.

“…in favor of the baptism of infant servants, from the cessation of the Jewish Church to the times of Augustine, we can only say that Augustine speaks of it as a custom in existence; that it resulted, in his day, from the conviction that baptism came in place of circumcision, a conviction which we can trace up through the earliest fathers…

…we commend the resolutions of the Synod of South Carolina…

‘1. Resolved, That it is the duty of believing masters to train up their servants, as well as their children, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

2. Resolved, That the principles of the Abrahamic covenant, as to the cirucmcision of servants, is till in force in reference to the infant offspring of those who stand to us in this relation; and that as baptism succeeds to circumcision, it is the duty of masters to dedicate such servants to God in the ordinance of baptism, and to do all in their power to train them up in a knowledge of the truth and in the way of salvation through Christ.

3. Resolved, That though there are great and manifest dificulties in carrying out the principles of these resolutions, these difficulties have chiefly resulted from the long continued neglect of believing masters and of the church, and that these difficulties must be gradually overcome by continued and persevering efforts.'”

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Quotes

1500’s

Richard Hooker

The Works of Mr. Richard Hooker (that learned and judicious divine), in Eight Books of Ecclesiastical Polity… (London, 1666), bk.5, section 64, p. 244  Hooker (1554–1600) was a prominent Anglican apologist.

“‘It comes sometime to pass’ (says St. Augustine)

‘that the children of bond-slaves are brought to baptism by their Lord; sometime the parents being dead, the friends alive undertake that office, sometime stangers or virgins consecrated unto God, which neither have, nor can have children of their own, take up infants in the open streets, and so offer them unto baptism, whom the cruelty of unnatural parents casts out, and leaves to the adventure of uncertain pity.’

As therefore he which did the part of a neighbor, was a neighbor to that wounded man whom the parable of the Gospel describes, so they are fathers, although strangers, that bring infants to him which makes them the sons of God.”

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1600’s

Anthony Walaeus

Synopsis of a Purer Theology  (Brill, 2020), vol. 2, Disputation 44, ‘On the Sacrament of Baptism’, section 49, p. 165

“But we do exclude from baptism the children of those who clearly are strangers to the covenant, such as the children of heathens, Muslims, Jews, and of similar people…  And for this reason we should leave them–like foreigners–to the judgement of God…  unless they happen through lawful adoption or through the just and properly-designated status of slaved to be enrolled and taken up into the families of believers as though belonging to them.  For in this case many Reformed churches do baptize those children, because they deem that God has adopted them into the fellowship of his covenant in this manner, that is to say by the covenant of Genesis 17:12-13, which in the early church was so far beyond debate that from it Augustine on several occasions deduced a powerful argument against the Pelagians for election by grace. [On the Grace of Christ & on Original Sin 2.35 in NPNF1 5.249-50]”

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Thomas Blake

The Birth-Privilege, or, Covenant-Holiness of Believers & their Issue in the Time of the Gospel, Together with the Right of Infants to Baptism  (London, 1644), p. 22

“We have examples not to be contemned of the baptism of whole households, and whether infants were there or no, as it is not certain (though probable) so it is not material: The precedent is a houshold; he that follows the precedent must baptize households.

It appears not that any wife was there, yet he that follows the precedent in baptizing of households, must baptize wives, and so (I may say) servants, if they be of the household.”

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The Colony of Virginia  1667

A Complete Collection of All the Laws of Virginia Now in Force...  (London [1684]), At a Grand Assembly held at James City September 3. Anno 1667, p. 155

“II. An Act Declaring that Baptism of Slaves does not Exempt them from Bondage

Whereas some doubts have arisen whether Children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of the owners made partakers of the blessed sacrament of baptism should by virtue of their baptism be made free; It is enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of Baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom;

That diverse masters freed from this doubt may more carefully endeavor the propagating of Christianity by permitting children, though slaves, or those of greater growth if capable, to be admitted to that sacrament.”

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William Sherlock

A Practical Discourse of Religious Assemblies…  (London, 1681), pt. 2, ch. 5, pp. 303-4  Sherlock was an Anglican.

“…use the best skill you have to instruct your children and servants, yet this is no reason to withdraw them from public instructions: nor can any man, who understands his religion, think he discharges his duty to God and the Church, merely by his private instruction of his family, when he neglects, or refuses to bring them to public instructions.

3. For he must consider, that his children and servants, who are baptized, are members of the Christian Church, and therefore ought to be sub∣ject to the instructions and discipline of it, as far as their age and capacity will permit.  They do not only belong to his private care, but to the public care of the Church, who is to provide for the instruction of her children; and to deny the Church liberty to instruct her children, or not to interpose their own authority to make them submit to it, is to withdraw their children from the communion of the Church, after a solemn dedication of them to God.”

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Nathaniel Taylor

Paidobaptismos Orthobaptismos: or, The Baptism of Infants Vindicated by Scriptures & Reasons...  (London, 1683), Argument 6, p. 51  Taylor was reformed.

“…yet we find [in the N.T.] whole families baptized, and several saints greeted with the Church of God in such an house, which may as reasonably infer the children and servants of such families to have been baptized, and to have been reckoned Church-members; and we may as reasonably believe there were children in some of their houses and families who were baptized, as they [baptists] can confidently deny it.”

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Latin

Daniel Chamier

Last edition, Tome 4, bk. 5, ch. 11, section 2, as quoted in Giles Firmin, A Sober Reply to the Sober Answer of Reverend Mr. Cawdrey…  (London, 1653), p. 42

“And learned Chamier speaks very warily upon the question:

‘Servi si fim verè servi quales olim, non diffitear•nam Abrahamo legimus imperatum ut circumcideret suos omnes servos, sed quales hodià not serves habem•• ut plurimum quia verè liberi suns, non putem sic tractandus, non cor quidem qui jure belli fiunt subditi principibus, nam hoc genus subditorum tamen liberum manet: De natu ergo ex parentibus insidelibus liberis, si consentiant parentes, distinguendum putem: Consentiunt enim vel ipsi facti fideles, ac tune nulla difficultas, etc. vel perseverates in infidelitate, ac tum non putem baptizandor, etc.'”


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On Baptizing a Wife

Quotes, 1600’s

William Hussey

An Answer to Mr. Tombes [a Baptist], his Sceptical Examination of Infants’-Baptism…  (London, 1646), pp. 44-45  Page 43 starts the context.  Hussey was the Erastian minister who debated Gillespie on the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ.  Not every particular in the larger context is endorsed.

…from whence it will appear that a believing master may present his servant and children to baptism, though it does not follow that a believing master may or will present those of his servants or children that are adult or of years without their consent, yet he may by his authority require them to it as an external duty; he cannot compel them to any duty, or restrain them from any vice without their consent, yet he may correct them, and incline their will to any outward duty by his authority, and having wrought upon them to consent and submit, the commissioner may baptize them that come so presented: the master of a family is a king, a prophet, and a priest, if by any of these offices he can prevail with his houshold, he may bring them to the performance of their duties…

…though it be the master or husband’s duty to move his family, yet he cannot always prevail; and special direction concerning the wife is given to suffer her in regard of the bond of matrimony and that under some limited and restrained terms in hope of her conversion [1 Cor. 7]; yet nothing is said concerning servants but that he may either force them or be rid of them if they continue infidels in that sense, that is refuse to list themselves among disciples; the public worship of some God being the bond of all human society, Ps. 101:6, ‘He that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me:’ he that keeps any servant that will not be baptized, is not a good Christian; it is true, all men of discretion ought to consent to every duty…”

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John Horn

…A Consideration of Infant Baptism, wherein the grounds of it are laid down…  and many things of Mr Tombes [a Baptist] about it…  Answered…  (London, 1654), pp. 38-9  Horn (1614-1676) was an English minister.

“Nor yet do [they, the apostles] make their being of a household simply the ground of their being baptized; for I confess there may be diverse in and of a houshold, that in some case, that is, of positive refusing to stoop to the Gospel, may not be baptized; as an unbelieving wife, servant, or child grown, they are by persuasion to be won in, or else let alone, this springing from the foresaid ground of not forcing ordinances upon men:

But I make the grounds of their baptism: the tenor of the commission that bids them [ministers to] disciple all the gentiles, and of the gospel holding forth grace to all, one and other, no man being common or unclean in that respect in God’s account, but as they render themselves so by their willing rejections of the grace tendered to them, with their being under the tuition of those that profess faith, and subjection to the doctrine of Christ, and the non-resistance found in them, and the duty lying upon parents to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Whence it is to be noted, that it’s said of the jailor, he and all his, not all his ‘houshold’, but all ‘his’ were baptized; possibly some in the house might not be in his [to] dispose, but so many as were his were baptized.

If any man say, its an act of force to disciple an infant; I say no, of no more force to baptize them to Christ, than to lay them in their cradles or carry them in their arms; they have no will nor reluctancy against it, ye may do with them what ye will: whence they are a pattern of right entring the Kingdom: ‘He that receives not the Kingdom of God as a little child,’ etc.  They receive it as God and his people order them into it, and in it.  And for their discipling by instruction, they usually, if well educated, drink it in, and submit to it better than others, as to the outward profession at least, as was before said.  And I find not that baptism was ever denied to any that would submit themselves to learn the Christian profession…

…who yet when they [infants] came to years of understanding, owning what was in infancy done to them, were never therefore reputed members of the Church or proselytes by compulsion.”

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Charles Leslie

A Religious Conference Between a Minister & Parishioner concerning the Practice of our Orthodox Church of England in Baptizing Infants…  (London, 1696), pp. 11-12  Leslie (1650-1722)

“Parishoner:

But if federal holiness be here meant, then the unbelieving wife may lay a claim to baptism as well as the children on the account of her husband’s faith.

Minister:

No, there is a double difference in the case: 1. Because there is not the same reason a believer’s unbelieving wife should be covenantly holy as that his children should be so:  Almighty God having engaged Himself in Covenant to such children, which He has not done to such a wife; the tenor of which Covenant runs thus, Gen. 17:7:

I will establish my Covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting Covenant; to be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee.’

And this Covenant which God made with Abraham is still in force and made with the believing gentiles and their children, by virtue of which a Covenant relation redounds to the children of a believing father, but not of the unbelieving mother; the Covenant is established with believers and their seed; and not with their wives that are idolaters; and so St. Peter expounds this Covenant, Acts 2:39, ‘The promise is to you and to your children;’ there is no mention in either place of unbelieving wives, neither are they included in the Covenant of Grace, as their believing husbands and children are;

As for instance, when Solomon married Pharaoh‘s daughter, she continuing a heathen still, had no benefit of the Abrahamical Covenant as her husband and children (if he begat any by her) had; they were both within the Covenant though she was out of it: In like manner is it with a believing Christian husband, he and his children are Covenantly holy, when his unbelieving wife is not so, but only civilly holy.

2. The wife is able, and therefore ought to make profession of her faith before she is baptized; the children are not able to profess their faith, and therefore may be baptized without it: And this distinction they must allow, because they have made it themselves in respect of Christ’s satisfaction, which they say, is but one, though there is a twofold way of applying it:

1. Through believing in those that are capable of believing.
2. Without believing is this satisfaction applied to dying infants:

And therefore they have no more reason to say we make two baptisms than we have to say they make two satisfactions of Christ: one for grown persons through faith and another for infants without faith.  And if Christ’s satisfaction is one, so is our baptism one, notwithstanding this twofold way of applying it;”

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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