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Brief History of Infant Baptism
By W. C. Buck, Columbus, Miss
The Christian Repository 1856
      I come now to inquire into the reality of the chief corner stone, or rather the great foundation, of the Pedo-Baptist system. In introducing this subject to your notice, I deem it important to premise that, in the latter part of the second or the beginning of the third century, baptism began to be regarded as indispensible [sic] to salvation. The solicitude of parents for the salvation of their children and the impulses of humanity combined with this view of baptism, to stir the question in many minds; what shall be done to secure the salvation of our youth who are too young to be impressed with the truth of the gospel? Having misunderstood the word remission, and understanding it to be equivalent to the words pardon and forgive, they were led to think that without baptism, such children as had grown to the age of accountability would be lost; to avoid this painful result the plan of catechising the children so as to enable them to make a profession, in order
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to baptism, was the first resorted to. This process soon populated the church with unconverted persons, and greatly increased its proclivity to error and an abandonment of the scriptures as the Law of Christian faith and obedience.

      It was not long after the first divergance from the inspired rule before the discovery was made that, although new-born babes and young children had not committed actual sin, they were, nevertheless, conceived in sin and came into the world tainted with original guilt, and without the “laver of regeneration,” as baptism was now called, all infants were lost. But the scriptures required a profession of faith, as a prerequisite to baptism, and infants could not believe. To obviate this difficulty, sponsors were resorted to, to confess in the name and behalf of the unconscious child. These were, and subsequently, called God-Fathers and God-Mothers. Here first germinated the idea of “federal holiness;” first, as vicarious on the part of sponsors for the children in behalf of whom they stood; for those sponsors must be members of the church. The idea was soon transferred from the sponsors to parents. It was too manifest to all who read the New Testament and had recourse to the Mosaic economy for ritual and law in all these matters; hence the law of circumcision was appealed to as settling how old the child must be when baptized; and so one thing after another until baptism was put in the room of circumcision, the covenant of circumcision for the covenant of grace, the Jewish Theocracy blended with the Kingdom of Christ, and christian parents made to sustain the same relation to the church in behalf of their children, which Jewish parents did in behalf of them to the state. It required time for all these elements to be evolved and arranged as we now find pedo-baptism systematized and arranged. In hierarchies, such as the churches of Rome, England, &c., the claim of federal holiness in behalf of children of the church has never been set up; they still regard children as incapable of making the requisite profession, and require sponsors to do it for them. It was left for John Calvin to transfer the Abrahamic covenant, the Jewish Theocracy and all, into the Kingdom of Christ. Hence, those who follow him have no use for sponsors; because their children are born into the

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church, and have a right, by inheritance, to baptism, as the successor of circumcision, &c.

      Shortly after the discovery that new-born infants would be lost without baptism, the further discovery was made, that children were not only born sinners, but conceived in sin, and consequently lost without baptism; and hence strange and shocking as it may appear, [Robert] Robinson has recorded in his History of Baptism, see page 433, the following fact: “In the year 1751, a humane doctor of Laws, of Palarmo, published at Milan, in the Italian tongue, a book, 120 pages in quarto, dedicated to all the guardian angels, to direct priests and physicians how to secure the eternal salvation of infants by baptising them when they could not be born. The surgical instruments and the process cannot be mentioned here, and the reader has come to a point in infant sprinkling, where English modesty compels him to retreat and retire, so that it is impossible to say anything more on lustrating infants by way of baptising them.”

      The saving efficacy of infant baptism is now, as in ages past, inseparably associated with the use of it, in the minds and affections of all pedo-baptists. It is useless for them to deny it, so long as all the arguments urged in its support, and the principles upon which it is founded lead inevitably to that conclusion.

      It was natural, rather inevitable, that infant baptism should derive spiritual religion from the church and fill it with a carnal and unsanctified membership; hence the spirit of the world supplanted the spirit and the law of the Gospel; the Church of Christ was transformed into a nationality, and the Beast rose up and expelled the Bride of Christ from the habitations of holiness, to seek refuge in deserts of the earth; pursued by popes, and priests with fire, dungeons, the sword and death.

      As the discovery had been made that the New Testament did not warrant the innovations which had led to this state of things, it was not to be expected that they could be sustained and enforced by its precepts; hence the advocates of infant baptism, national churches, and of carnal christianity, had recourse to the Old Testament, and found, as they supposed, examples and precepts, in God's dealings with the Cananites, and in the Mosaic institutions, to justify the most excessive despotism and cruelty,

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to force their abominations upon the people. As soon as the man of sin was established upon the throne of anti-Christ, the scriptures were wrested entirely from the people, and the “will” of the Dragon became the law of the world, and the blood of the saints gushed in torrents over the hell-wrought drapery of the whore of Babylon, until she was red with it.

      Though the Roman hierarchy had wholly abandoned the law of Christ's kingdom, and assumed to have been invested with the habilaments of the Deity; yet it never dared to avow a disregard for the specific institutions of the gospel, nor to openly profess Judaism. They still recognized baptism as such, though they applied it to infants; immersion was the only legal baptism of the papacy, except in cases of threatened death, until the year 1811; still immersion is regarded by them as the baptism of the New Testament. It was reserved for John Calvin and his associates to foist into the christian church the whole Mosaic economy; and he was the first man that ever dared to write and publish a creed from which immersion was excluded, and sprinkling put in the place of baptism.

      But for infant baptism (which subsequently degenerated to infant sprinkling), there never would have been a National Church. Had persons been left with unfettered consciences, to profess christianity under the influence of its truths, a distinction between the world and the church would have been so manifest as effectually to have rendered a National Church impossible. All the intolerance, persecution, cruelty and carnage, which has marked the progress of Popery, and other national establishments of christianity, is chargeable to infant baptism alone. Wherever it predominates, there, as an inevitable result, religion is established by law, and hence all of them are the defenders of infant baptism, in some way or other.

      Baptists, in all ages, have been the opposers of infant baptism, a christian church-membership, union of church and state, and coersion in matters of conscience. They have always been the unflinching advocates of an open Bible, the sufficiency of the scriptures as a rule of faith and practice, the independence of the churches and the liberty of conscience. Hence, in all ages of the church and in all countries, they have been the objects of the

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special hate of despots, both civil and ecclesiastical, and of carnal and graceless professors of Christianity; so that nearly all the blood which persecuting hands have shed has flowed from the veins of unoffending Baptists.

      Having laid before you, as briefly as possible, the foregoing outline of the history of the past, I only need to remind you of what I have previously said, in opposition to the pretended identity of the Jewish nation and the christian church, to satisfy every reflecting mind of the utter falsity of the assumption.

      The Jewish was a national organization, and who can believe, in the face of his own declaration, that his kingdom was not of this world, that Christ ever intended to establish a National Church The Jewish Theocracy was a worldly Kingdom, but Christ says: “My Kingdom is not from hence,” The Mosaic economy and the scepter of Judah were all to terminate when Messiah came; so say the law and the prophets: but Messiah has come and set up his kingdom - unique, indeed, in its character, subjects and laws; therefore it follows, inevitably, that the Mosaic economy had passed away. No Republican - no advocate of the liberty of conscience, can consistently advocate the identity of the Jewish Church (so called) with the Church of Christ.


[By W. C. Buck, History of Infant Baptism, The Christian Repository 1856, pp. 29-33. via Internet edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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