A defense of infant-baptism in answer to a letter (here recited) from an anti-pædo-Baptist
Wallis, John, 1616-1703.
Page  1

A LETTER FROM AN Anti-Paedo-Baptist, TO DOCTOR WALLIS.

Reverend SIR,

I Have read the First Part of your Discourse concerning the Christian Sabbath, and liked it so well, that I was very eager to get the Second: In reading whereof, I could not but ad∣mire at the large Measure of Understanding, which the Lord, out of his Goodness, has been pleased to Page  2 bestow upon you, above many other Pious and Learned Men, that have formerly Treated of the Sabbath, and disputed against the Jewish Sab∣bath, with so much Weakness, that the Sabbata∣rians have been greatly thereby incouraged in their Errour. And coming in pag. 91. to these words of yours, You would have had—so much modesty, as to think, the mistake may possibly be on your side, rather than on the whole Body of Christians (some very few excepted) who religiously observed the Lord's Day; I did reflect on my self, who am perswaded, that Believers Infants are not to be Baptized in their Infancy, contrary to the Opinion of so many Learn∣ed Paedo-Baptists in Christendom, yea the Gene∣rality of Christians; and it made me to think, the Mistake might possibly be on my side, rather than on the Body of Christians (some few excepted) who Conscientiously maintain Infant-Baptism. And supposing you, Worthy SIR, by your Commu∣nion, to maintain Paedo-Baptism, I took courage and boldness, to write unto your self, for to know your Grounds from Scripture, on which you satisfy your Conscience in that Point.

The main Reason, which satisfies me against Paedo-Baptism, is, because I can find no where in Scripture, either in express Terms, or by any na∣tural or necessary Consequence, that it is the Will of God, that Believers Infants are to be Baptized in their Infancy: I cannot find any Precept to Bap∣tize them, nor so much that ever Iohn the Baptist, or Christ, or his Disciples (that appears) did Baptize any of them.

Page  3 I know indeed, what Dr. Hammond, Dr. Light-foot, and the Athenian Society presume (as to an Institution) from a Custom among the Iews, of their Baptizing the Infants of Proselytes, as if Christ out of Condescension to the Iews, to win them, did include Infants in his Precept of Bap∣tizing all Nations, Children being a part of them. But I cannot find in Holy Writ any such Custom recorded, or that it had a Divine Institution. And if those Writings from whence they would prove, that there was such a Custom in our Saviour's time amongst them, were of undoubted Authority, yet I cannot see any reason to conclude, that Christ would institute Infant-Baptism to gratify Infidel Iews, who were but the least part of all Nations, (if intended there by Nations.) As Iohn's Baptism was from Heaven, and was so singular a thing, that the Iews, Ioh. 1. 25. wondring at it, asked him, Why baptizest thou then, if &c. So the Baptism Christ instituted, was not from any Jewish Tra∣dition, or Rudiment of the Jewish World, but from Heaven, and differing from any Jewish Baptism. That Iohn Baptist, and our Lord first made Disci∣ples, and then Baptized those Disciples, I think is plain from Ioh. 4. 1. But I cannot find, that they also Baptized the Children of those Disciples, as if they had been the Children of New Prose∣lytes. As our Lord did thus among the Iews, by his Apostles, so he did by them among the Nations; and I can no where in Scripture find, that Believing Gentiles were counted and called Proselytes, be∣cause Christians, and that their Children were Bap∣tized for that reason. The Doctor doubtless can Page  4 certify me, whether or no it was a Custom among the Iews and other Nations, for great Masters to initiate their Disciples by Baptism; and if so, there would be more probability, that Christ instituted Baptism from that Custom, if from any, and that as they did not Baptize the Children of those Dis∣ciples too, until themselves became Disciples, so the Children of the Disciples of Christ, the great Prophet of God, and our Master, are not to be Baptized, until themselves also become Disciples. Go ye, and teach all Nations, is explain'd, Mar. 16. 15. Go ye into all the World, and preach the Gospel to every Creature; and thus it is by several of the Fathers understood. And by Baptizing them, viz. all Na∣tions, there is no necessity to understand it of Bap∣tizing all Persons absolutely, for we have the words [all Nations] in other Texts of Scripture, where they do not mean all Persons absolutely, but of a capable Condition, as Adorate eum omnes gentes, & Psallitate Deo omnes Nationes, &c. And if Baptism was the way of Discipling Persons, as some would have it, then the Apostles needed not have first required of them Repentance and Faith, as previ∣ous Dispositions and Qualifications for Baptism, but rather have Exhorted them to be Baptized, in order to their being taught Faith and Repentance, with other things commanded by Christ to his A∣postles. But as it plainly appears from other Scrip∣tures, that our Saviour here excludes from being Baptized, those Persons of all Nations, that are not yet qualify'd for it, i. e. Not yet become Disciples, or Repenting Believers, tho' capable of Faith and Repentance; so it does not appear to me, that Page  5 Infants Disciples are here included, tho' neither qua∣lify'd nor capable, as Disciples should be.

Thus when, Col. 2. the Apostle tells Gentile Be∣lievers, that they were compleat in Christ, seeing they were Circumcised in him by his Circumcision, and Buried and Risen with him in Baptism, &c. Some will from hence assert, that Circumcision came in the room of Baptism,* and consequently that Infants are to be Baptized, as before they were to be Circumcised, which I can no ways see: Nor was ever any such thing pleaded by the Apostles, against the Christian Iews, that were Zealous for Circumcision. Iohn, and Christ by his Apostle, ad∣ministred Baptism among the Iews, while Circum∣cision was still a Duty to the Iews and their Chil∣dren. I grant, that it may be proved from hence, that Circumcision was a Figure of the Circumcisi∣on made without Hands, in the putting off the Body of the Sins of the Flesh, but not that Circum∣cision figured Baptism: Which if it could be proved from hence, yet there does not necessarily follow a necessity of observing this Circumstance of Age, any more than many other Circumstances of the Type, as that of the eighth day, of the male sex only, &c. But the Analogy will hold thus more pro∣perly: As Infants in the latter were Circumcised, so spiritual Infants or Babes in Christ, that are be∣come like one of these little Ones, shall be Bapti∣zed. Therefore that Argument from the Circum∣stance of Age, being but a meer Conjecture, proves nothing.

Page  6 The Argument which is taken from the Action of Christ's blessing Infants, does not prove to me, that it is the Will of God, that Infants are to be Baptized, but rather the contrary, in as much as we cannot learn, but that Christ dismissed them without Baptism.

As for that saying of Christ, Except a man be born again, &c. it does no more infer a necessity of In∣fant's Baptism, than that other of his, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, &c. does infer a necessity of their partaking at the Lord's Table. The Gospel speaks to Persons of Years and Discretion, and it is they whom it ties to Baptism for their Salvation, and the Baptism which saves them, is the answer of a good Conscience towards God in their Obedi∣ence to the Gospel-requirings, which Infants are uncapable to discharge. And for the Salvation of In∣fants, God is able still to bestow saving Mercies upon Infants now immediately, as he did before the Institution, either of Circumcision or Baptism. Even as it is in the case of Faith, He that believeth not, shall be damned: Now, because Children are no more able to give assent to the Gospel, than to dis∣sent therefrom, shall we from thence infer their Damnation? And if the want of Faith does not Damn them till they are capable of Faith, then much more the want of Baptism will not Damn them, till then, and may therefore be rationally deferr'd till then.

As to the Promise of the Holy Ghost to the Iews and their Children, I cannot understand it, but Conditionally, viz. To them, if they should Re∣pent and be Baptized, (according to Peter's Exhor∣tation Page  7 to them,) and also to their Sons and Daugh∣ters, of the same Capacity to receive the Holy Spirit's Effects on their Natural Faculties, upon their Repentance and Obedience of Faith: For, as the word [Children] in Scripture, does not al∣ways mean Infants, else it would follow, that there were no Adult Persons in all Israel; so I see no necessity to take it here of Infants.

As for the Holiness of the Children of a Be∣liever, spoken of 1 Cor. 7. 14. (whatever that Holi∣ness be) it does no more necessarily prove, that In∣fants of Believers are for that reason to be Bapti∣zed, than the Holiness of the Unbelieving Parent there spoken of, will prove, that such an Infidel is for that reason to be Baptized. For, that Holi∣ness of the Children, is derived to them from their Believing Parent, as it is to the Unbelieving Pa∣rent, and not from the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

And whereas for an Apostolical Precedent, there is one pretended from Baptizing of Stephanas's Houshold, it is but a bare Conjecture, first, that there were little Babes in the Family, and secondly, that they were Baptized. It is said of the Ruler at Capernaum, that He believed, and all his House, but it does not thence follow, that there were Infants in his House, and that they believed as well as he. One seems just as probable as the other.

Now, Good SIR, seeing I can find no Certain∣ty or Domonstration, and I may say, no Proba∣bility, in these Arguments, that are usually brought from Scripture for Infant-Baptism; if you can pro∣duce any Arguments that carry more Weight and Page  8 Demonstration in them, for that which you be∣lieve to be the Truth, and against that which you believe to be an Errour, and I (at present) a Truth, I do earnestly and humbly entreat you, for my Soul's sake, and as you are in Christian Duty and Conscience bound to God, to be so Good as to im∣part them to me, for to save my Soul from such an Errour. And as your so doing may make much, not only for my Spiritual, but also for my Temporal Benefit, so you will thereby greatly Oblige,

Reverend SIR,

London,Feb. 25. 1696.

Your very Humble, And Affectionate Servant, C. C..........

Pray Sir, will you be pleased to favour me with some Lines, and to direct your Letter for me, to be left with Mr. — at the — in St. Paul's Church-yard, and there I will call for it, Three Weeks hence, and pay for it. Vale.

To the Reverend John Wallis, D. D. and Professor of Geometry in the Univer∣sity of Oxford.