The Character Of Infants. -- By: Enoch Pond
BSac 9:36 (Oct 1853) p. 746
The Character Of Infants.
There is scarcely a question in the whole range of Christian Theology, more difficult of solution than that respecting the character of infants. There is scarcely one which has given rise to a greater variety of speculation. And judging from the prominence accorded to it by Ecclesiastical Councils and Ministerial Associations, there is hardly one of greater importance. For whatever else these venerable bodies may choose to pass over in their examination of candidates for the ministry, they almost invariably bring in the subject of infant character. “What is your opinion as to the character of infants? “This question is about as sure to be asked, as an examination in theology is to take place.
Nor do we complain at all of this. The question is not only a proper one, but it is one of very considerable importance, both in itself, and in its relations. Besides; it is, on more accounts than one, a test question; a test of the candidate’s opinions on certain connected points; a test also of his ability to unravel theological difficulties, and untie hard knots.
In what follows, it is proposed carefully to consider this question; to examine some of the theories which have been proposed respecting it; and to set forth what is conceived to be the truth of the case.
The theories of infant character now before the public naturally divide themselves into two classes; the one regarding the infant as innocent, the other holding him to be a sinner. We know not that any Christians have said that infants, at the first, were positively holy. Pelagius himself would not have said as much as this. But there are those who hold that they are negatively innocent, they have no sin; and this because they are not moral agents, and have no moral character at all.
Of those who take this ground, there are two distinct classes; the Pelagian and the Evangelical. The Pelagian tells us that the infant has inherited no corruption from Adam, of any kind; that he is born as he would have been, if Adam had not sinned. He may have no moral character at the first; but when moral agency commences, and
BSac 9:36 (Oct 1853) p. 747
he begins to have a character, it is as likely to be good as bad. If he is rightly instructed, and a proper example is set before him, it is even more likely to be holy than sinful. And, as this individual advances in life, his character will be a mixed one, in which sin or holiness will be likely to predominate, according as the influences with which he is surrounded are bad or good.
We hardly need stop to refute this theory of infant character, as no evangelical Christian ca...
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