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This article was taken from the Baptist Encyclopedia edited by William Cathcart, D.D., published in 1881.

Baptism, the Scriptural Subjects of.—

It is common for nations to confer favors upon their
own subjects, and upon their friends. It would be
a singular and very unwise procedure for any great
state to bestow special privileges upon those who
are not its friends, and who without a radical
change of heart never can be. Baptism is an ex-
alted honor; infants are not the friends of Christ's
kingdom, and they never will be unless they are
born of the Spirit of God. Baptism has no tend
ency to produce a new heart, and its bestowal
upon unconscious infants is a senseless and unwise
abuse of a blessed ordinance intended only for the
Saviour's friends.

The Scriptures know nothing of any baptism for
unconscious infants. The commission of Jesus to
preach and baptize is given in Matt, xxviii. 19 :
" Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit." The lessons to be given
the nations are on the love of God in giving Jesus,
his atoning merits and mercies, his precious prom-
ises, solemn warnings, and final judgment, and on
the power of faith in Jesus to appropriate him and
all his spiritual wealth. Infants cannot receive
such lessons ; they were not intended for uncon-
scious babes. It would be an outrage on common
sense to try to teach the multiplication table to a
babe of a week or a month old, and a far greater
absurdity to command the profound teachings of
Calvary to be imparted to little ones who do not
understand one word of any language. The com-
mission is a command to instruct those in all na-
tions who are capable of understanding it, and to
baptize them when taught. The verb " teach" is
" make disciples," the pronoun " them" is instead
of the noun " disciples,"—to baptize them is to im-
merse disciples. And this is further confirmed by
what the Saviour adds, "Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
The persons to be baptized are first to be made dis-
ciples by repentance and faith ; then they are to
receive immersion, and immediately after they are
to have full instruction in all the inspired words
of Jesus. The commission commands the baptism
not of unconscious infants, but of believers only.
On the day of Pentecost 3000 persons were bap-
tized, of whom it is written, " Then they that
gladly received his word were baptized, and the
same day there were added unto them about three
thousand souls."—Acts ii. 41. No unconscious babe
received " the word gladly." These persons were
believers. When the evangelist, Philip, told the
story of the cross in Samaria, "They believed
Philip preaching the things concerning the king-
dom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and they
were baptized both men and women."—Acts viii.
12. Philip s converts were all professed believ-
ers, and these only were baptized. The eunuch
claimed to be a disciple before he was baptized.
Paul was a believer before Ananias immersed him.
—Acts xxii. 16. Of Cornelius and his household
it is said that he was "a devout man, and one that
feared God with all his house." "Then answered
Peter, 'Can any man forbid water, that these should
not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit
as well as we?' And he commanded them to be
baptized in the name of the Lord."—Acts x. 2, 24,
47, 48. This devout household that had received
the Holy Spirit and baptism was a believing family,
and the "kinsmen and near friends of Cornelius, "
who shared in his privileges, were believers. Of
Lydia it is said that "the Lord opened her heart,
that she attended unto the things which were
spoken of Paul," and she was 'baptized, and her
household."—Acts xvi. 14, 15. Nothing is said
about the persons composing her household. But
if her heart was opened by the Lord her family
needed the same blessing; as for her family being
baptized on her faith, the writer of the Acts gives no
hint of it: he does not say she had children or a
husband, or that husband and children and servants
were baptized on her faith. She was a visitor on
business at Philippi, apparently without husband or
children, and there is no evidence that any infant
received baptism in her household. Of the jailer
at Philippi, it is said that Paul and Silas "spake
unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were
in his house," and that " he was baptized, he and
all his, straightway," and that " he rejoiced, believ-
ing in God with all his house."—Acts xvi. 32, 33,
34. Among these hearers of the Word who were
rejoicing believers there was no unconscious infant.
If the household of Crispus was baptized, it is said
that "he believed on the Lord with all his house,"
and in this supposed baptism the subjects were be-
lievers. Of the twelve men who had only John's
baptism, whom Paul met at Ephesus, and whom
he is supposed to have rebaptized,—Acts xix. 2,—it
cannot be said that there was an unconscious infant
among them. Nor could there be in the household
of Stephanas, baptized by Paul, and of whom he
says, that "they addicted themselves to the ministry
of the saints."—1 Cor. xvi. 15. John's baptism
was precisely the same as Christ's, as Calvin (In
stitutes, lib. iv., cap. 15, sec. 7) and others teach,
and of it Mark says, "John did baptize in the
wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance
for the remission of sins. And there went out unto
him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem,
and were all baptized of him in the river Jordan,
confessing their sins."—Mark i. 4, 5. No uncon-
scious infant confessed its sins in these Jordan im
mersions. The apostle John gives the Saviour's
exact idea of the qualifications for baptism when
he says, "When therefore the Lord knew how the
Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized
more disciples than John."—John iv. 1. This is
the Saviour's law of baptism,—make disciples, then
baptize them : "Go ye and teach all nations (make
disciples of all nations), baptizing them in the
name," etc. This was the uniform practice of the
apostles, to which there are no exceptions. There
is not an instance of infant baptism in the New
Testament, nor is there any command enjoining it.
It has no more Scriptural foundation than the in-
fallibility of the Pope, or the inspiration of the
"Book of Mormon." Neander writes with au-
thority when he says, "Baptism, at first, was ad-
ministered only to adults, as men were accustomed
to conceive baptism and faith as strictly connected."

0013,—but unfortunately the same scripture requires
submission to every enormity instituted by earthly
governments.


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26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726

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