Baptism Of Infants, And Their Church-Membership — Modern Views -- By: G. Frederick Wright
BSac 31:123 (July 1874) p. 545
Baptism Of Infants, And Their Church-Membership — Modern Views
Before proceeding to a statement of the modern opinions which have prevailed regarding the significance of infant baptism, it will be well to make some remarks upon the relation of the views presented in the preceding portion of this Article to a few points not heretofore touched upon, and which may be considered by some of no small importance.
(1) What bearing do our principles have upon the question of the salvation of those who die in infancy?
Upon this point we have to say: (a) That our theory does not require us to form any opinion at all, except in regard to those who live to the age of personal responsibility. In the view here presented, the significance of the rite has been made to centre, mainly, in that period of life when the parents and the church are most active in consciously influencing the actual character of the child. If the child lives to act consciously for himself, the battle wages most fiercely during the opening years of his life. During this time the parents and the church, relying on the promises of God, are the most potent allies for good which the young and struggling soul has. As we conceive it, the rite of infant baptism serves an important purpose in warning these parties to be at their post.
But (b), If God in his providence takes children away from the world before the years of personal accountability, he removes them also from the need of the rite of infant baptism; and our general confidence in God’s abounding mercy leads us to believe that he secures their development under such circumstances that they will all be saved.
BSac 31:123 (July 1874) p. 546
But this is outside of the question we have been considering; for, logically, our position steers clear entirely of any theory regarding God’s method of dealing with those who die before responsible development in this life. We maintain our position, and consistently hold that all who die before years of personal accountability are saved. Our views so connect the significance of infant baptism with the development of character in this life, that no conclusion can be drawn from it adverse to the salvation of those who die unbaptized, and before years of personal accountability.
(2) The second point upon which we remark concerns the reasons for baptizing but once.
It will doubtless be suggested, as it has been in our hearing before this, that the ends which we propose to secure by infant baptism might be secured equally well, if we called our rite something less than baptism, and then had the real baptism at the time of the profession of faith.
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