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Vol. V. BETHANY, VA., SEPTEMBER, 18-48.
TRACTS FOR THE PEOPLE-No. XXVII.
EVILS OF INFANT BAPTISM.
Ī PUBLISHED most of this essay twenty-eight years ago. It was read extensively at that time; but only those who read my discussion of this question with Rev. John Walker, in 1820, have seen it. It supplies a place in this series essential to its completion, and at this time relieves me from writing a new one. Some few additions are made to it from a recent work of much interest. On mature reflection on this expose, I have nothing to apologize for, except its imperfections and incompleteness: these I cannot now remedy.
Having been able to find no good in infant baptism, nor in infant sprinkling, (for I musť always consider them as distinct things,) I now proceed to inquire, 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 answer the question now proposed with the utmost coolness and deliberation, and feel no hesitation in declaring that infant sprinkling is a manifold evil. This I shall instance in a few respects:
1st: It is "will-worship.” By the term wiil-worship, I understand worship founded upon the will of man, and not on the will of God. “In vain do they worship me,” saith Christ, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." The preceding pages show that the rite of infant sprinkling is as much a tradition of men as the scrutiny, the exsufflation by which devils are expelled, the insuflation by which the Spirit of God is communicated, the consecration of the wafer, the chrismal unction, the lighted taper, and the milk and honey, SERIES III-VOL. V.
which are but seven of the twenty-two appendages to infant sprinkling, made by the church of Rome. Now as all will-worship is a disparagement of the worship appointed of Gud, it is consequently a reflection upon his wisdom, and obnoxious to his displeasure. It is as contrary to his revealed will as the presenting of “strange fire" upon his altar was in the days of Nadab and Abihu. And, indeed, every religious practice which is not founded upon an explicit revelation of the will of Heaven, is will worship. The language of it is this, “Thou shouldst have appointed this, and we are supplying a defect in thy wisdom or goodness.' Such is the spirit of every innovation in divine worship.
2d. It has carnalized and secularized the church more than any other innovation since the first defection from Christianity. The actual tendency of infant sprinkling is to open the gates of the church as wide as the gates of the world, and to receive into its bosom all that is born of woman. That this may appear as obvious as the light of the sun, the reader has only to reflect that if the Pedobaptist system prevailed so that all the fathers and mothers in any country, or in all countries, were determined to have their infant offspring “initiated into the church” as soon as born, by the rite of sprinkling; then, in that country, or in all countries so acting, the discrimination between the world and the church would be lost; its gates would be as capacious as those of the world, and without the necessity of a spiritual renovation, every member of the human family in that region or country would have a place in the church. About one hundred years ago, the whole kingdom of Scotland, with the exception of, say two or three thousand individuals, was one great Pedobaptist society. In those days the church engrossed all that were born, and initiated them into it. Of course, all the enormities committed in the realm were committed by members of the church; so that none of the apostolic admonitions in which the difference between the church and the world is pointed out, would apply to them.
In the year 1300, and for several centuries before, all the citizens of Germany, France, Spain, England, and indeed the whole Western Roman Empire, with the exception of a few Baptists, were initiated into what was then called the Church, as soon as the parents could have the rite performed. In those days, and whilst those principles prevailed, the church was secularized, the church and state completely amalgamated, and all the follies and vices of childhood, manhood, and old age, were engrafted upon the stalk of Christianity. In those days Pedobaptist principles triumphed, and there never was a period in which the church was so completely and universally carnalized and secularized. Let it not be said that this was owing more to other traditions than to infant baptism or sprinkling; for when we grant that there were many other innovations and traditions besides this, we must insist that this contributed more than they all to introduce that awfully corrupt system called the Man of Sin-to nurture, to mature, and to perfect it. It introduced all, good and bad, into the church; and as bad men invented errors and propagated heresies in the church, we have only to ask how they got in, and then the true cause of the enormous mass of error of those days appears. It is a fact evident from church history, that the prevalence of corruption in the church bore pace with the prevalence of infant baptism, and the triumphant days of the one were the triumphant days of the other.
The description we have of the church, in the scriptures, leads us to consider all the members of it as "a peculiar people”-as born from above--as being all taught of God. Hence we read, “A will. ing people in the day of thy power will come to thee”—“All thy children shall be taught of God, and great shall be the peace of thy children”—“Every one that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me”_"To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Power or privilege to become the sons of God was given to such only as were born of God. How unlike this to the practice of Pedobaptists, who endeavor to crowd all into the church which are born not of God, but of the will of the flesh and the will of man!
Again, when we read the descriptions given of the churches of the saints in the Epistles, they will not apply to a church that admits all the infants born of the members to membership. The majority of any such church must be of a character essentially dissimilar to the following descriptions of the church of Jesus Christ. 1. Cor. vi. 11. “Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 2 Thess. ii. 13. “Brethren beloved of the Lord, God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of the truth.” i Peter ii. 5. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual.sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 9th verse. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of