THE EVILS OF INFANT BAPTISM
By Robert Boyt C. Howell
INFANT BAPTISM IS AN EVIL BECAUSE IT IS THE GREAT BARRIER TO CHRISTIAN UNION
Nature of Christian union; its importance; the principles upon which it is maintained; incompatible with infant baptism.
CHRISTIAN union, and infant baptism, never can exist together. Between the millions of Baptists and pedobaptists this rite interposes a barrier which is, and must forever remain impassable. But Christian union is imperative upon us all. Whatever prevents it is an evil. Infant baptism prevents it. Therefore infant baptism is an evil.
It is in the very nature of true religion to produce, and perpetuate Christian union. God is one; his religion is one; and his people are one. All who love Christ are guided by the same gospel; are partakers of the same Spirit; have in view the same great ends; and are heirs of the same immortal inheritance. How can they be otherwise than united? In asserting these scriptural propositions, I am not unmindful of the fact that diversities of sentiment on nearly every subject, will exist. They arise inevitably, from the differences in natural capacity, in acquired knowledge, and the modes of thought, of different minds. These, however, will always refer to minor considerations, and therefore be unimportant in their nature, extent, and influence. They will be such as intelligent and holy men may indulge without offense, without alienation of affection, and without detriment to the most perfect Christian union. Nor is the requisition met when all who compose one particular church, or denomination, are in harmony. Christian union embraces all Christians throughout the whole universe. All who are one with Christ, and governed by his word, are inevitably one with each other. The law of gravitation in the natural world, does not more certainly attract to its center the objects within its range, than does the religion of Christ bring into unity all those who are within the circle of its influence. It knows no names, or distinctions. It is complete. It is universal.
Christian union, I have said, is imperative upon us all. Our Savior himself commands it, as an object to be sought, with unremitted earnestness. He deemed it also of such importance as to receive a place in that memorable last prayer offered by him in behalf of his ministers and people.
"I pray," said he, "that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me." (John 16.)
Christian union among all the people of God is therefore essential to the glory of the Redeemer, to the honor of his truth, to the spread of the gospel among the nations, and to elicit and confirm the faith of believers, Well then did an apostle thus admonish us:
"Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." (2 Corinthians 1:10.)
How imperative! Dare any of us disregard this injunction?
But Christian union is not to be governed by feeling merely, however ardent that feeling may be. Like every other duty, it must be guided by fixed principles. And what are these principles? It may be sufficient to say, without descending to particulars, that they are all plainly and fully laid down in the gospel. "The word of God, the whole word of God, and nothing but the word of God," is the grand "platform." There is no other. This must be embraced, believed, loved, practiced, and all Christians will as naturally flow together as the waters of the whole earth will find their way into the ocean. A union upon any other principles would not be Christian union, but a conspiracy against true religion, offensive to God and injurious to his people.
Such is Christian union, in its nature, its obligations, and its principles. It is implanted in the renewed heart by the Holy Spirit; it is demanded by the gospel for the honor of truth, and for the extension of the kingdom of Christ among men; and governed exclusively by his holy word, it is practicable, natural, and easy. But infant baptism interposes and destroys it wholly, indeed, renders it impossible. It destroys Christian union by changing the laws of membership in his church, established by Christ; by receiving into that sacred body the unholy and profane; by admitting men without the ordinance ordained and enjoined as the initiatory rite; and by the corruptions which invariably attend the practice of infant baptism. Thus the lovers of Christ are thrown hopelessly asunder. While the barrier remains, the separation must continue.
Infant baptism is therefore an offense against Christ; an offense against the peace and harmony of his people; an offense against the souls of men. And who is responsible for this monstrous evil? Those, of course, who introduced it, and who still adhere to its practice. For all its calamities they must account to God, and to men. We solemnly declare ourselves innocent of its enormities. We never can approve it. We never can believe in the principles upon which it is maintained. Were we, therefore, to unite for the sake of union, or from any other motive, with pedobaptists, it would not be Christian union. It would be a sin against God. It would be a combination against the truth and purity of religion. While infant baptism continues, Christian union is utterly impracticable.
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