The Doctrine of Infant Salvation Part 2 -- By: Alan H. Hamilton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 101:404 (Oct 1944)
Article: The Doctrine of Infant Salvation Part 2
Author: Alan H. Hamilton


The Doctrine of Infant Salvation
Part 2

Alan H. Hamilton

(Continued from the July-September Number, 1944)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 33–54, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–22 respectively.}

View of the Church of England

Article XXVII of the Thirty-Nine Articles, creed of the English Church, is entitled “Of Baptism.” It reads: “Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace is increased by virtue of prayer unto God.

“The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.”

Although the Church of England has seen a development in the conception of infant salvation, there yet remains a variety of opinions within its bounds. Again, obviously this communion is limited by an external view of the Church and the above declaration on the nature and effect of baptism cited from their creed. Yet here, also, there is observable a tendency to go as far as possible to avoid the position to which these limitations bring one. This tendency is traced by a recent Anglican scholar, W. H. Griffith Thomas, down through the creeds of the church.1

The Ten Articles of Henry VIII (1536) taught plainly that only baptized infants are saved: “Infants and children

dying in their infancy shall undoubtedly be saved thereby, and else not.” This opinion is repeated in the “Bishops’ Book” of 1537, but the “King’s Book” of 1543 omits the words “and else not.”

The first Prayer Book (1549) states: “It is certain by God’s Word, that children being baptised (if they depart out of this life in their infancy) are undoubtedly saved.” In its present form the Prayer Book reads: “It is certain by God’s Word, that children which are baptised, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved.”

The Lord Bishop of Winchester bases his argument for the salvation of baptized infants upon these considerations: the analogy between circumcision and baptism; the practice of the Jews with respect to baptism as well as circumcision of infants, so that if it were to be applied to adults only ...

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