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ON THE GOOD AND EVIL OF INFANT BAPTISM.
SOME say, that the sprinkling of an infant is a good thing, some say it is an evil thing, and others suppose it to be neither good nor evil, bút an innocent unmeaping thing. For my own part, I know of no action of a rational agent, that is not either good or evil in some sense either naturally or morally good or bad. It is a very pertinent question in relation to every part of our practice, but especially in relation to our religious practice " What good is in it? Or, What good end will be obtained by it?"
I will then propose the question, What good is there in infant sprinkling ? This question I will attempt to answer with the greatest caution. If I were to answer it from the lips of pedo-baptists, I should not know what to say, or which opinion to prefer; for on this subject they are far from agreed amongst themselves : and fools may differ, when Doctors disagree.”—There are three leading opinions on this subject held by the three grand sects of pedo-baptists--the Church of Rome, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland.* The Church of Rome says, that infant sprinkling forgives sins, and this is a good thing; but the other Pedo-baptists deny this: and so do I. The Church of England calls baptism the "laver of regeneration," and affirms that it constitutes the subject " a child of God, an heir of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of glory.” The Church of Scotland denies this; and so do I. ' The Church of Scotland says, that it is a seal of the covenant of grace, and “ doth signify and seal our engrafting into Christ, and our engagement to be the Lords.” This I also deny. Some, perhaps, may be so curious as to know on what grounds I oppose these opinions--my reasons are the following:
1st, because the Bible says no such thing; it never mentions infant baptism nor infant sprinkling, consequently
* The Church of Scotland is the same in faith and practice as the General Assembly, or Presbyterian Church.
never points out any advantage resulting from it. Secondly, the above opinions are contrary to fact, and the experience of mankind. Facts are the most cogent reasons, and the most stubborn arguments in the world. Is it a fact, that all infants baptised or sprinkled, have their sins forgiven them, id that rite ? Let him that says yes, present his proof. We baptists say that nothing but the blood of Christ forgives sins; and that when any of the sins of any pers'ın are forgiven, all his sins shall be forgiven, and himself saved--for the scriptures know nothing of a partial forgiveness ; and when one sin is forgiven, all the other sins of the individual shall be forgiven. What infant sprinkling is to one infant, it is to all infants that are sprinkled. There is no difference amongst them, they are all by nature alike, and whatever advantage one receives from this tradition, all receive the same. Now. of those that are sprinkled, many live to adult years, and lead lives of the most stubborn infidelity and abandoned profligacy, and die as they lived. This is a fact incontrovertible. If, then, their sin or sins previous to sprinkJing had been forgiven them, they would have had all their sins forgiven them, and would have led lives quite different. They would have been sanctified as well as pardoned: for pardon, justification, sanctification, and salvation, are inseparably connected. Thus saith the Apostle, Rom. 8,30: Whom he called, them he also justified, and whoin he justified, them he also glorified." All the graces of salvation are inseparably bestowed.There is one proposition which I shall here submit; it is an universal negative, viz. There never was, there never will be, a child of Adam lost, that had but one sin of all his sins forgiven himn. The converse of which is, that there never was a child of Adam that had one sin forgiven him that had not all his sins forgiven. . The reason is, the Al. mighty does not his work by halves-where he begins to work he finishes. He does not resemble a foolish artificer or mechanic, who begins a piece of workmanship, and after he has blocked it out, or begun to work upon it, throws it away, either froin versatility, or incapacity to execute and perfect it. Such are my reasons, or a sample of them at least, for denying that. infant sprinkling forgives sins.
Many Pedo-baptists will, doubtless, agree with the preceding remarks against the Romanists' opinion, concern
ing sprinkling of infants. They will, no doubt, say, as was said of old, “thou answerest discreetly.” But I am about to address them, on their views of infant sprinkling, and, no doubt, they will say, “ thus saying, thou reproachest us likewise.” Well, my friends, the day soon comes, when you will confess, that your monitor is your friend, rather than your panegyrist. I must then tell you ; ye that say, that the sprinkling of an infant makes it " a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of Glory," that your opinion of infant sprinkling is as contradictory to fact as the above. Again, I repeat, whatever sprinkling is to one infant, it is to all infants. This, I presume, none will deny; if they should, I will thank them to shew what sprinkling is to a child that dies, and what it is to one that lives. All I intend to say is, that sprinkling is the same in substance, and confers the same benefit on the child that lives, as it does on the child that dies. I am sure, also, that we must ascer. tain from those that live, what benefits they received from sprinkling, for we can learn nothing from them that die in infancy. Bear with me, then, ye
sons and daughters of the English Hierarchy, while I tell you, that I cannot find in the annals of your sect, nor in the bosom of her wide extended communion, facts sufficient to cobvince me, that the sprinkling of her members in infancy, has made them « children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Glory." What charity, what unbounded charity, would it require, to enable the good people of your communion, to consider that George the 4th and his ministry, with all the branches of the royal family, the principal officers of the Navy and Army, and a thou. sand other dignified t:embers of your Church, were by sprinkling, in infancy, made children of God, heirs of Christ, and inheritors of the kingdom of Glory!! Methinks I hear you say, in the language of your own liturgy, from 6 such members," Good Lord deliver us! I do not mean to say, that every individual member of the pavaland mil. itary establi-hment, or of the ministry, is a member of the Episcopal Church, or a disgrace to any Church; but, I inten to say, that the nine tepths of them are members of that Church, and a disgrace to any Church—but, perhaps, you will say, I unfairly take a sample of the worst, and argue from it, as if it were true of all. No, my friends, you shall have no such cause of complaint. Let us look around at A, B, C, and D, 18, 19, 20, and 21 years of
age, and ; is it now evident, that these became children of God, in baptism; nay, verily, if they are now children of God, they will tell you they became so since infancy; not by sprinkling, but by the regeneration of the spirit of God, by means of the life giving word.—Your views of infant sprinkling, then, when fairly exposed to the test, are found to be as contradictory to fact, and as opposite to the scriptures, as the views of the Romanists on this tradition,
The things which have been written, respecting the views of the two preceding sects, apply, in a great measure, 'with equal force, against the Presbyterians of Scotland and America for if, as their confession says, the sprinkled infant is engrafted into Christ" by sprinkling, then its sins must be forgiven it; then it must be pardoned and accepted; for, saith the Apostle, “ If any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.” But look around, and what difference do you observe in the boys and girls that have been baptized in infancy, distinguish. ing them from those that have never been sprinkled. Is there any difference ? No-they are every way similar. Facts will not support your views, aay facts oppose them, and proclaim to you, that you are mistaken. Of those that are thus engrafted into Christ, not a fourth part ever sit down at the Lord's table-not a fourth part so much as profess to be members of Christ's mystical body. You cannot, then, point out one benefit resulting from infant sprinkling. If you could but bring one fact to justify your views, we might patiently investigate it, and give you due credit for it; but this cannot be done. In a word then, there is no good in infant sprinkling. Those who are sprinkled, are, in no respect, better than those that are not. The unsprinkled infant grows as well, is as healthy, lives as long, becomes as dutiful a child, makes as good a citizen, and if a subject of Divine grace, makes as good a Christian, as the sprinkled child ; and without Divinegrace, no person, young or old, can become a Christian. What, then, is the cause of this mighty contest : What do you propose to yourselves from it? Do you not see that it becomes a mere engine in the hands of every party, to facilitate its own aggrandizement ? By it the church of Rome secures all born within her dominion; the church of England and the church of Scotland, secure, by this rite, all within the pale of their respective jurisdictions. Each sect has its own views of it ; but all agree, that the
sprinkled are thereby bound to become members of their respective sects; and are at no little pains, to make them think, that they are under baptismal vows, and formal engagements, to be the Lord's ; that is, in the sense of each party, to join it, and be true sons of the chareli, in which they came under these vows. It is the consum. mation of, what shall I eall it, priestcraft or folly, to teach a youth to consider itself under vows or engagements, from some circumstance that took place, when it was 10 or 15 days old; in which it was as passive, and of which it was as unconscious, as a stone! Yet there are not a few who believe it: weil may it be said that the conscience is a cre ture of circumstances !
Having been able to find no good in infant baptism, nor in infant sprinkling, (for I must always consider them as distinct things I now proceed to enquire-is there any evil in it? In answering this question, I desire to be guided by three things only, scripture, reason, and fact-neither by passion nor by prejudice, nor I trust will the fear of the frown of any mortal, ever deter me from declaring the truth on this, or any other topic, on which I am fairly called to express my sentiments. I ariswer the question now proposed with the utmost coolness & deliberation, & feel no hesitation in declaring, that infant sprinkling is a sunifold evil. This I shall instance in a few respects.
1o, It is 66 will worship." By the term will worship, I understand worship, founded upon the will of man and not on the will of God." In vain do they worship me," sith Christ, “ teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The preceding pages shew that the rite of infant sprinkling is as much a tradition of men, as - the sorutiny, the exsufflation, by which Devils are expelled, the insufflation, by which the spirit of God is communi. cated, the consecration of the water, the chrismal unction, the lighted taper, and the milk and honey," which are but seven of the twenty-two appendages, to infant sprinkling made by the Church of Rome. Now as all si will worship" is a disparagement on the worship appointed of God, it is consequently a reflexion upon his wisdom, and obnoxious to his displeasure. It is as con. trary to his revealed will, as the presenting of “ strange fire” upon his altar was, in the days of Naidab and Abihu. And indeed every religious practice, which is not founded upon an explicit revelation of the will of heav. en is will Forship. The language of it is Thou shouldst