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other from an unbelieving parent. For every intelligent reader of the Bible must see that the holiness predicated in such a case of the children, is precisely the same as that predicated of the unbelieving or idolatrous parent, and if it could justify the baptism of the one, it would also justify the baptism of the other.
Considerable stress is laid by some of our Pædobaptist friends upon the fact of the early prevalence of infant baptism in the primitive churches. They cannot see how, unless it was “an apostolic tradition,” it became so prevalent in the third and fourth centuries. They imagine, too, that they discover slight traces of it even earlier than this; and some of them venture to affirm, that it evidently descended from apostolic usage, and can be traced in every age. But this view of the subject they are compelled gradually to abandon. It is with extreme caution that their more critical and candid writers venture to speak of it at all, and some of them frankly yield the point.
Mr. Noel disposes of this supposed evidence in favor of infant baptism in the following summary way :-.
“1. There is no mention of infant baptism till the third century. 2. The corruption of infant communion was as early and as extensive as that of infant baptism. And, 3. The origin of both corruptions was obviously identical.”
On the first point, taking the citations from the learned Bingham, who did his best to uphold this practice, he proceeds as follows:
Clemens Romanus, who lived in the times of the apostles, though he does not directly mention infant baptism, yet says a thing that by consequence proves it. Speaking of Job, he says : " Though he was a just man, yet he condemns himself, saying, There is none free from pollution, though his life be but the length of a day.” Therefore infants were baptized in the time of Clemens !! Bingham, III. 158.
Justin Martyr, A. D. 148, says : " Many men and many women, sixty and seventy years of age, who from their childhood have been disciples to Christ, continue uncorrupted.” Because Justin says that God was pleased to convert many children by his grace, therefore infants were baptized in his day ! !*
Bardesanes Syrus, contemporary of Justin, says: “ The man that is regenerated by water, and born again to God, is thereby freed from the weakness of his first nativity, which comes to him from man ; and so he is made capable of salvation which he could not otherwise obtain. For
* It might be added here that the expression in Justin, ex naidwv èuaOntevoar, Apol. II. p. 62, is quite indefinite so far as mere age or time is concerned. It might refer to childhood or youth indefinitely, and would be quite correct if it described persons who, when children of eight, ten or twelve years of age, were converted to God, or, as the original may be rendered, “made disciples of Christ.”
so the true prophet has testified with an oath, saying, . Verily I say unto you, Except ye be born again of water, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” Therefore, in the time of Bardesanes infants were undoubtedly baptized !!
Irenæus was born A. D. 97, and wrote A. D. 176 the following “ Christ came to save all persons by himself; all, I say, who by him are born again unto God, infants and little ones and boys, and youths and elders. Therefore he passed through each age, being made an infant for infants, sanctifying infants ; among
little ones, a little one, sanctifying those of that age also, &c.” (Ire. lib. ii. 39.) Irenæus says, that some infants are born again through Christ, and sanctified by him ; therefore, all infants were baptized in his day!!*
Tertullian, who was born A. D. 160, and died A. D. 220, wrote about the beginning of the third century as follows: “ According to every one's condition, disposition, and age, the delay of baptism is more advantageous, especially in the case of little children. Our Lord says, indeed, • Do not forbid them to come to me.' Let them come, therefore, when they are grown up; let them come when they can learn, when they can be taught whither it is they come. Let them be made Christians when they can know Christ. (Tertullian De Baptismo.) Tertullian says, Let baptism not be administered to little children, not a syllable being uttered by any previous writer to intimate that they were baptized; therefore the baptism of infants was universal in the time of Tertullian !! Until the time of Tertullian, therefore, that is, during the whole second century, there is no record of infant baptism ; and in Tertullian's time, the only proof that it was beginning to be practised is Tertullian's argument against it.
But Origen, who lived in the third century, shows that it had become the practice of his day, by the following expressions : “ Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins.” " And because by the sacrament of baptism the pollutions of our birth are laid aside, therefore even little ones are baptized." The Church hath received from the apostles the tradition that baptism should be given even to little ones." Origen, Bingham, III. 167. The practice, which was growing in the time of Tertullian, was become general in the time of Origen.
This is the whole of the evidence in favor of infant baptism, up to the third century. During the first two centuries, there is no symptom of it, not a line written in its favor. Early in the third century, Tertullian opposed it, and later in the same century Origen speaks of it as an established custom. These facts seem to me to justify the judgment of Suicer: * For the two first centuries no one received baptism except those who, being instructed in the faith and imbued with the doctrine of Christ, could testify that they believed, on account of those words, He that believeth and is baptized.' Afterwards the opinion prevailed that no one could be saved without being baptized.” (Suicer in Bingham, III. 157.)
Sce Dr. I. Chase's learned and satisfactory article upon this celebrated passage, in the Bibliotheca Sacra, for November, 1949, in which he shows, by a careful and extensive collation of passages from Irenæus, that the expression “regenerated unto God,” has no ref-rence whatever to baptism, but to the general fact, that by the incarnation of our Saviour the whole race was placed in a condition to be regenerated ; in other words, that the incarnation has a regenerative power applicable to all persons, whether young or old. The idea that the redemptive work of Christ is intended for a universal blessing, and that it places all mankind in a new and advantageous position with reference to salvation, is a favorite one with Irenæus. This, both from the context and the peculiar inode of expression, is most obviously his meaning in this frequently quoted passage : “ Omnes venit per semitipsum salvare, omnes inquam, qni per eum renascuntur in Deum," etc. We may add, that in all the writings of Irenæus, rich in evangelical thought, and touching upon almost every point of Christian doctrine and duty, there is not a word which, by fair interpretation, can be construed in favor of infant baptism.
Mr. Noel then proceeds (pp. 253-4) to show that infant communion was introduced into the church as early as baptism, that it became as general, lasted for centuries, and grew up as silently. He makes his quotations chiefly from Bingham, who fully admits these facts, quoting as authority Cyprian, with the author of " The Constitutions,” Augustine, and others. He shows, also, that they were introduced and perpetuated for the same reason, namely, that they were deemed indispensable to salvation. A remarkable proof of this, we may add, is found in Cyprian, De Lapsis, who tells us that on one occasion the sacramental wine was forcibly poured down the infant's throat ! " Diaconus reluctanti licet de sacramento calicis infundit.”
Few persons, unacquainted with the writings of the Greek and Latin fathers, have any idea how early and extensively not only these, but other serious corruptions were introduced into the church. No traces of infant baptism can be found in the writings of what are called “the Apostolical Fathers," including Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, Hermas and Barnabas, and covering at least the first century and the half of the second century ; in the case of some of the letters of Ignatius, which are spurious, but of an early date, and also of the Epistle of Barnabas, coming down perhaps to the end of the second, and even to the third century. But in several of these writings, particularly the Letters of Ignatius, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Epistle of Barnabas, we have the most decided evidence that baptism had come to be regarded not only as a sign but as a vehicle of grace. See Patres Apostolici, Hefele's edition, pp. 20–24, 250, 267, 329. They speak of it as Sigillum Dei, oppayis Osòv, the Seal of God, and represent the water as “washing away sin,” as communicating “eternal life.” Thus Pastor Herma, Patres Apos. p. 328, says: “Illud autem sigillum aqua, in quam descendunt homines morte obligati, ascendunt vero vitæ assignati; et illis igitur prædicatum est illud sigillum, et usi sunt eo, ut intrarent in regnum Dei.” Here, where the primitive mode of baptism is clearly recognized, the saving character of the ordinance
is specifically taught. It is in the same connection that the Pastor is supposed to teach the singular figment, that the righteous dead in Hades, who died before the coming of Christ, had to be baptized, in a spiritual way, in order to their salvation, figured under the symbol of stones, “ lapides qui ascenderunt cum illis de profundis."
“ Et dixit : Quoniam hi apostoli et doctores, qui predicaverunt nomen Filii Dei quum habentes fidem ejus et potestatem defuncti essent, prædicaverunt illis, qui ante obierunt, et ipsi dederunt eis illud signum. Descenderunt igitur in aquam cum illis, et iterum ascenderunt,” etc. Lib. ii. Similit. ix. Patres. Apos. p. 329.*
In the same writings, especially in the Epistles of Ignatius, we have distinct traces of the supremacy which was gradually assumed by the Bishops of the church, and particularly of the Roman Church, and the slavish obedience enjoined upon the people. In Irenæus, and Justin Martyr even, we have traces, as Mr. Newman, in his Theory of Development, has clearly proved, of the real presence in the Eucharist, the worship of angels, and the supremacy of Rome ; in Cyprian, Tertullian and Origen, of purgatory, the real presence, the Pope's supremacy, the worship of the Virgin, and many kindred errors. Nearly all the peculiarities of Popery, in their initial state, can be traced at least to the third and fourth centuries; and this is the reason why the Anglo-Catholics, or Puseyites as we call them, regarding the first four centuries, or the Ante-Nicene period of the church, as their model, have fallen, one after another, into the grossest errors of Popery. As early as the latter half of the second century, and certainly in the third, baptism and the Lord's Supper were both regarded as indispensable to salvation, and as possessing, in themselves, a magical virtue to cleanse the soul. This belief became so strong in the third and fourth centuries, that persons who had delayed baptism till their death-bed made haste to have it performed, and pious parents felt uneasy till their children had submitted to the rite, lest, dying unbaptized, they should fall into perdition! Being baptized, of course they were admitted to the Eucharist, were confirmed as members of the church, and, whatever their interior character, heirs of eternal glory. For proof of this see Neander's Church History, vol. I. pp. 314, 315, 333, 646 ; vol. II. pp. 319, 320.
But not only is the argument from history, but also from apostolic usage, given up,
as we have already seen, by some of the most respectable advocates of infant baptism. How then, it may well be asked, do they maintain the practice, and upon what ground especially do they defend its authority? On precisely the same ground that many of the Catholics defend it, that namely of development. The church, say they, was gradually established, and in process of time, by a natural law of evolution or development, various usages, and among the rest, the baptism of infants, grew out of that development. The gospel is a universal benefit, and as Christian families are constituted to raise up a “ holy seed,” and since all need regeneration, and Christ, to use the language of Irenæus, came to regenerate all, “infants, little ones, youths and elders ;" since, in a word, the church embraces all ages and all conditions within her ample domain, it is
* The following is a translation of the above "He answered, Because those apostles and teachers who preached the name of the Son of God, dying after they had received his faith and power, preached to them who were dead before, and gave to them the seal. They went down therefore into the water with them, and again came up. But these went down while they were yet alive, and came up again alive; whereas those who were before dead went down dead and came up alive." Book Third, Similitude 9.
proper that infants should be baptized, and thus introduced into the fold of God. Thus Newman, “ Development of Christian Doctrine,” p. 51, (Harper's ed.,) says: “ If there was a point on which a rule was desirable from the first, it was concerning the course which Christian parents were bound to pursue towards their children. It would be natural indeed in any Christian father, in the absence of express direction, to bring his children for baptism ; such in this instance would be the practical development of his faith in Christ, and love for his offspring; still a development it is,-necessarily required, yet, as far as we know, not provided for his need by the Revelation, as originally given.”
On precisely this ground, Neander, who, in general, is remarkably candid as well as accurate in his statements, after saying, (History, vol. I. p. 311,) “ We have all reason for not deriving infant baptism from apostolic institution, and the recognition of it which followed somewhat later, as an apostolical tradition, serves to confirm this hypothesis,” adds : " Irenæus is the first church teacher in whom we find any allusion to infant baptism, and in his mode of expressing himself on the subject, he leads us at the same time to recognize its connection with the essence of the Christian consciousness; he testifies of the profound Christian idea, out of which infant baptism arose, and which procured for it at length universal recognition. Irenæus is wishing to show that Christ did not interrupt the progressive development of that human nature, which was to be sanctified by him, but sanctified it in accordance with its natural course of development."
Here then we have the origin of this practice, and the philosophy of the thing, which has already developed itself into a monstrous form of error, constituting the church not of professed believers, but of families, and thus, in due time, making it national, formal and Papal.