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By David Benedict, 1848

     1. We firmly believe it was not instituted by Christ or his apostles - that it is radically opposed to the principles of the gospel, and may properly be placed among the traditions of men.
     It is a practice that never was and never can he found in the Bible, and for the observance of which there is not in the sacred volume either precept, example or command; and no arguments drawn from analogy between the old and new dispensation, from Hebrew covenants, from remote antiquity, or from any constructive theories whatever, can, in our judgment, counterbalance the dead and total silence of the Scriptures on the point.
     On no one subject have all anti-pedobaptists, of all ages and countries, however much they may differ in other matters, been so perfectly agreed as on the unscriptural character of infant baptism.

     2. We maintain that the natural and unavoidable tendency of the system is to produce an entire change in the christian dispensation, as to the character of its subjects and their freedom of choice and action.
     Instead of leaving mankind, as free and intelligent beings to choose and act for themselves, so far as their adroit management can go, it binds them to a church and party in their most helpless and unconscious years.1

     3. We object against the infant system, that it does away, when carried out to its full extent, all distinctions between the church and the world.
     This statement is made on a broad scale, with reference to national churches, and is not meant to apply those minor parties of evangelical pedobaptists, with whom infant membership is a point no-point affair.2

     4. We contend that infant baptism places its subjects in a false position, and leads them to false estimates of their religious character and standing.
     This is true especially of all who maintain the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, which is done by far the greatest part of what is called the christian world; and the sacramental efficacy ascribed to the mysterious rite becomes a substitute for personal religion.
"The father of lies," says Dr. Owen, "could not well devise a more effectual plan to lead mankind blindfold to perdition."

     5. Infant baptism not only changes the order of the gospel, but from time immemorial it has inspired multitudes of its zealous advocates with the worst of principles and passions, and has led them to treat those who have denied and rejected it in a most abusive and outrageous manner.
     It is difficult to find language to describe the disposition which for ages was shown toward the old Waldenses, Anabaptists, and all kindred communities, under whatever names they passed, who were made to suffer from the men in question, and fee1 the rigor of the laws which were continually enacted against them by all classes of rulers, civil and ecclesiastical.
     The full vials of their wrath, with awful regurgitations, were poured upon their devoted heads.
The concentrated rays of their scorching indignation, with focal intensity, were made to fall on a defenseless people, who had neither the means nor disposition to defend themselves.
     Century after century the Christian world, so called, were mad against them; Catholics and Protestants went hand in hand in their efforts to protect the infant system, and by fire and sword to drive every vestige of anti-pedobaptism from the earth.
     Whether dipping or sprinkling prevailed, was of little importance. They well understood that the principles of these people, when fully carried out, would undermine their worldly churches. This was the grand secret with the leaders; but the mass of the people regarded them as spiritual infanticides, whose reputed cruel hostility would doom the whole infant race, as far as their influence extended, to perdition and despair.
     If the old Anabaptists had deprived every child in Christendom of its legal inheritance, the vengeance of their persecutors ,would not have been more ferocious and exterminating.

     6. We object against this system, that it subverts some of the most obvious rules of philology, opposes all the facts of history, superinduces a reliance on tradition instead of the Bible, altogether incompatible with protestant principles, and leads to a dependence on inferences, analogies and far-fetched arguments, which the same men who employ them would treat with neglect or contempt, where their prejudices are not enlisted.
     The main positions, as laid down by the principal pedobaptist writers, I have examined with much attention. I have read them, not in partial quotations made by others, but from the works themselves, and freely admit, that I have often been astonished beyond measure that men of superior talents and information could risk their reputation as learned men and sound critics in so far departing from those canons of philology and literature, by which all who assume the rank of scholars are governed, when infant sprinkling is to be defended. When this practice is to be guarded, gentlemen of the greatest candor and intelligence are transformed at once into another set of men, and all the established laws of language are set aside, and the universal testimony of historians is either doubted or denied. In all other inquiries they labor to obtain real facts and definite ideas; but the moment the baptismal controversy appears in view, either as to its subjects or mode, their great object seems to be, to throw around it the mist of obscurity and make everything pertaining to it as uncertain and ambiguous as possible.
     But let these same men give up their prejudices and predilections so far as to follow truth wherever it shall lead them, how entirely different are their conclusions and pursuits? They come now to the true principles of scholarship - the beautiful science of philology they can follow without the fear of having their prejudices undermined, and the facts of history they are willing to admit in their plain and obvious sense.
     The men in question I respect for their learning and all their good qualities; but, in all candor, I am compelled to assert, that many of their arguments in defense of modem pedobaptism are weak, and puerile, and disingenuous as can well be found among any set of men of any church religious party, the followers of Loyola not excepted.

     7. We denounce infant baptism as a system of proselytism unfair and selfish in its construction, and unworthy of high-minded and honest men, whose object is truth, irrespective of their prejudices, predilections, or denomination biases, and who mean to be governed by the principles of equity, freedom and fair-dealing.
     There can he no question that proselytism was at the bottom of infant baptism among its founders and early promoters, and has been the main-spring of the system for more than fifteen centuries past. It was not for any spiritual benefit to the children that led the dexterous manage of old to conduct them early and still earlier to the baptismal font, but to secure their own selfish ends. It was a strife and scramble to increase their party, and a spirit of rivalship among churches of different creeds, and not unfrequently of the same. Catechumens we hurried through their preparatory studies; the requisitions were continually diminished, un-sponsors were admitted to make the needful answers for candidates for baptism, and the children of any age could be introduced to membership.
     And now the great mass of pedobaptist churches make their main dependence on their infant members for filling up their ranks. This peculiar kind of ecclesiastical adroitness enables them to have a constant supply in reserve. Those who join them from a conviction of the sentiments, or on a profession of their own faith, would not be sufficient to keep their churches alive. The leaders would not dare to risk their standing without the disingenuous policy in question, which gives them a peculiar advantage in the business of making proselytes to their party, over all who reject the infant system.
      The multitude, it is true, really believe in the popular notions of the saving benefits of the infant rite; but it is very difficult to suppose this of men of intelligence and information. But all can see its available character as a proselyting system; and this selfish policy, after all that is said, is at the bottom of the whole fabric of infant baptism.



      1. This objection may be rebutted by the assertion that they may join any other church when they see fit to abandon the covenant in which they have been placed. Multitudes, to be sure, have done so, but this change has generally been performed amidst embarrassments and hindrances growing out of the unwarrantable encumbrances which an injurious policy has thrown around them. They must, of necessity, become covenant-breakers, according to the discipline of the mildest class of pedobaptists, and lose their membership, real or hypothetical in the churches where their parents or guardians have placed them.

      2. I have shown in the review of pedobaptist authors, that men of great eminence on that side, and among the evangelical party, differ widely among themselves as to the kind of membership which infant baptsm confers, whether it is partial or complete; but with the great mass of this community there is no question on this point -- to all intents and purposes this initiatory rite makes them ipso facto members of the ecclesiastical establishment by whose authority it is conferred; and as far a possible every individual of the nation is brought into their spiritual folds, which, however, soon become worldly sanctuaries, where all church discipline is neglected, and the few spiritual members among them are overwhelmed by the infidelity, profligacy, and corruptions of the preponderating secular party.
     This I believe is a true picture of all the great national establishments in Europe.
     Dr. Wall considers it a good argument in favor of infant baptism, that all national churches have practiced it. "Very true (says Mr. Robinson), infant baptism, as it was intended, created national churches, and gives them continuance, as it gave them being. Let what will be said in praise of such churches, it can never be affirmed that they were either formed or continued by the free consent of their members. It was for this reason the learned Dr. Gill called infant baptism the main ground and pillar of popery; and a great number of baptists are of the same opinion.

      3. What but an overweening attachment to the infant cause could have led such men as Baxter, Burket, Baille, and others, to treat their baptist brethren with the scurrility and contempt which they copiously heaped upon them?
     But what an over-estimate of the spiritual and mysterious efficacy of the rite could have led so many writers of eminent talents to have so belittled themselves as they have done in their childish arguments in its defense? {This 3rd note is not designated in a specific place in the essay. Jim Duvall}


[From David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World, 1848; reprint 1977, Appendix, Section I, pp. 931-933. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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