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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From Infant Baptism: Part and Pillar of Popery, 1851
My first position is, that infant baptism is a part and pillar of Popery; and that by means of it Antichrist has spread his baneful influence over many nations.
The phrase, infant baptism, is employed here and throughout this discussion, in accordance with common usage, although properly speaking, the practice to which it is applied, should be designated infant sprinkling.
That unwritten traditions are regarded by Papists, as of equal authority in faith and practice with the Holy Scriptures, none can doubt who are at all conversant with their writings. The Council of Trent asserts, that "traditions respecting both faith and manners, orally delivered, and successively preserved in the Catholic Church, are to be received with equal affection of piety and reverence, as the Books of the Old and New Testaments." (Session IV. Decreta de Canone Scripturæ)
Popish writers even prefer tradition to Scripture. Thus Bellarmine says, "The Scriptures, without tradition, are neither simply necessary nor sufficient; but unwritten traditions are necessary. Tradition alone is sufficient; but the Scriptures alone are not sufficient." (De Verbo Dei, c. IV. Sect. 1, 6)
Another of their writers affirms, that
"the authority of ecclesiastical traditions is more fit than the Scriptures, to ascertain anything doubtful, even that which may be made out from Scripture since ecclesiastical traditions and the common opinion of the church are clearer, and more open and truly inflexible; while, on the contrary, the Scriptures have frequently much obscurity in them, and may be drawn hither and thither, like a nose of wax, and, as a leaden rule, may be applied to every impious opinion." (Pighius, Apud Rivet. Cathol. Orthodox, Tract I. Quest. 6. p. 99)
Bailey, the Jesuit, thus expresses himself,
"I will go farther and say, that we, have as much need of tradition as of Scripture; yea, more, because the Scripture ministers to us only the dead and mute letter, but tradition, by means of the ministry of the church, gives us the true sense, which is not had distinctly in the Scripture. In tradition, therefore, consists the Word of God rather than in the written letter alone. It is sufficient for a good Catholic, if he understands it is tradition; nor need he inquire after anything else."(Apud Rivet, p. 142)
By tradition, these Popish authorities mean, not tradition handed down in the Scripture, but without it, and distinct from it; unwritten tradition, apostolical tradition, so called tradition, not delivered by the Apostles in their writings, but, as it is pretended, communicated by word of mouth to their successors, or to the churches. That we may not mistake them, Andradius tells us, that "of necessity, those traditions also must be believed, which can be proved by no testimony of Scripture."
And Petrus a Soto still more plainly and openly affirms, "It is a rule infallible and Catholic, that whatsoever things the Church of Rome believes, holds, and keeps, which are not delivered in the Scriptures, the same came by tradition from the Apostles. Also, all such observances and ceremonies, whose beginning, author, and origin are not known, or cannot be found, were, beyond doubt, delivered by the Apostles." This is the sense which Romanists attach to apostolical tradition. (See the Abstract of the History of Popery. Part II. pp. 252, 253)
Now, upon this assumed apostolical and ecclesiastical tradition, all the essential peculiarities of Popery are based. This is the prolific fountain from which they all spring. This is the standard to which they are all brought, and by which they are all confirmed. And what is there, be it ever so absurd or impious that may not be proved by it, if once it be admitted as an authoritative rule? It is upon this ground, that Papists assert and maintain the observation of Easter and Lent; the adoration of images and relics, the worship of the virgin Mary, the sign of the cross, the invocation of saints, the sacrifice of the mass, transubstantiation, the withholding of the cup from the laity, holy water, extreme unction, prayers for the dead, auricular confession, the sale of pardons, purgatory, pilgrimages, monastic vows, and other superstitious opinions and practices, more numerous than we have space to mention.
Among pretended apostolical traditions, infant baptism is to be reckoned, and here lies the chief support to which its advocates appeal. Origen, who lived in the former part of the third century, and who was the first ancient writer that distinctly approved of infant baptism, represents it as a tradition from the Apostles. The words ascribed to him are these: "For this"—that is, for original sin—" the church has received a tradition from the Apostles, even to give baptism to infants."(Origen, Comment in Epistolam ad Romanos. VI. Tom. II. p. 543)
There is, however, little reason to regard the passage as genuine. A large portion of the works of Origen has perished; and those that still exist, have, for the most part, come down to us, not in the original Greek, but in a Latin translation by Rufinus, a writer of the fourth century, by whom they are known to have been extensively interpolated. So clearly has this been ascertained; that no judicious critic will place confidence in any writing of Origen, which is to be found only in the translation of Rufinus.
Augustine, who was a warm advocate for infant baptism, also, defends it as a custom of the church not to be despised, and as an apostolical tradition generally received.' But as he was contemporary with Rufinus, he probably took the hint of infant baptism being an apostolical tradition from the Latin translation of Origen made by the latter since no other ecclesiastical writer previously speaks of it in this manner. The uncertainty of any apostolical tradition in favor of infant baptism seems to be conceded by Jeremy Taylor, when he says,
"Now a tradition apostolical, if it be not consigned with a fuller testimony than of one person, whom all after ages have condemned of many errors, will obtain so little reputation amongst those who know that things have upon greater authority pretended to derive from the Apostles and yet falsely, that it will be a great argument that he is credulous and weak that shall be determined by so weak probation in matters of so great concernment." (Liberty of Prophesying Works, Vol. V. p. 552. Eden's ed. London, 1849)
Yet it is by "a probation " thus " weak," that many are "determined" in the matter of infant baptism, for not only do Popish writers, as Bellarmine and others, make it an unwritten, apostolical tradition, but even some Protestant Pedobaptists show a good will to place it among the unwritten sayings of Christ, or of his Apostles, and satisfy themselves with a supposition so gratuitous.
Thus Mr. Fuller, a late Pedobaptist writer, says, "We do freely confess that there is neither express precept nor precedent in the New Testament for the baptizing of infants, yet, as St. John tells us, that Jesus did many things which were not written, (John 21:25) appears to the contrary, infant baptism may have been one of them."(Infant's Advocate, p. 71, 160) In like manner, Mr. Walker argues,
"It does not follow that our Saviour gave no precept for the baptizing of infants, because no such precept is particularly expressed in Scripture, for our Saviour spoke many things to His disciples concerning the kingdom of God, both before His passion, and after His crucifixion, which are not written in the Scriptures; and who can say, but that among those many unwritten sayings of His, there might be an express precept for infant baptism?"(Modest Plea, p. 268)
And Mr. Leigh, one of the disputants in the Portsmouth Discussion, suggests, that "although infant baptism is not to be found in the writings of the Apostle Paul extant in the Scriptures, yet it might be in some writings of his which are lost, and not now extant." (Narrative of the Portsmouth Disputation, pp. 16-18) All this is plainly giving up infant baptism as contained in the Sacred Writings, and placing it upon unwritten, apostolical tradition, and that, too, conjectural and uncertain.
Now, infant baptism, with all the ceremonies attending it, for which also apostolical tradition is pretended, makes a very considerable figure in Popish pageantry. Romanists administer the rite with circumstances of great pomp and show; such as the consecration of the water; the presence of sponsors, who answer the interrogatories, and make the renunciation, in the name of the child, exorcisms, exsuffiations, crossings, the use of salt, spittle, and oil. Before the baptism, the water is consecrated with much solemn parade.
First, the priest makes an exorcism, breathing three times into the water in the figure of a cross, and saying, "I adjure thee, O creature of water!" Then he divides the water after the manner of a cross, and makes three or four crossings. Next, he takes a horn of oil, and pours it three times upon the water in the form of a cross, and makes a prayer, that the font may be sanctified, and the Eternal Trinity be present, saying, "Descend from heaven, and sanctify this water, and give grace and virtue, that he who is baptized according to the command of Thy Christ, may be crucified, and die, and be buried, and rise again, with Him."
The sponsors, or sureties, then recite on behalf of the child, the creed and the Lord's Prayer, renounce the devil and all his works, and answer the questions put in the name of the child. The form of interrogation and reply according to the Roman ritual, is this, "The name of the infant being called, the presbyter must say, Dost thou renounce Satan? Answer, I do renounce. And all his works? Answer, I do renounce. And all his pomps? Answer, I do renounce." Three times these questions are put, and three times the sureties answer. The interrogations are sometimes made by a priest, sometimes by a presbyter, and sometimes by an exorcist. The following question is also added, "Dost thou believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?" To which the sponsors reply, "I do believe."
Previous to being baptized, the infant is breathed upon, and exorcised, that the wicked spirit may be driven from it, and that it may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of Christ. The following is the formula for this part of the service prescribed by the Papal code. "Let him—the minister, priest, deacon, or exorcist—blow into the face of the person to be baptized, three times, saying, Go out, thou unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Ghost, the Comforter." That of Gregory is slightly different. "I exorcise thee, O unclean spirit, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that thou go out and depart from this servant of God."
After the infant has been exorcised and blessed, salt is put into its mouth, as a token of its being seasoned with the salt of wisdom, and as an intimation that "by the doctrines of faith, and by the gift of grace, he shall be preserved from the corruption of sin, experience a relish for good works, and be nurtured with the food of divine knowledge." The priest first blesses the salt after this manner, "I exorcise thee, O creature of salt." And then, having blessed it, he puts it into the mouth of the infant, saying, "Receive the salt of wisdom unto life everlasting."
The nostrils and ears of infants at their baptism are also touched with spittle by the priest to indicate that their senses are opened to receive the savor of the knowledge of God, and to hear his commands ; and that "as sight was given to the blind man mentioned in the Gospel, whom the Lord, having spread clay on his eyes, commanded to wash them in the waters of Siloam, so by the efficacy of holy baptism, a light is let in on the mind which enables it to discern heavenly truth."
Formerly spittle was put upon the eyes and the tongue, but that part of the ceremony seems now to be laid aside. And yet no farther back than the birth of King James I, it appears to have been in use since, at his baptism, his mother sent word to Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, who was to officiate on the occasion, to forbear the use of spittle, saying, "She would not have a pocky priest to spit in her child's mouth." (Abstract of the History of Popery, part I, p. 114) The prelate, it was well known, had led so licentious a life, as to have become diseased through his debaucheries.
In queen Mary's reign, the practice seems to have been common, for when the martyr, Robert Smith, was asked by Bonner, in what particulars Papists dissented from the Word of God in the administration of baptism, he answered, "First, in hallowing your water; in conjuring the same; in baptizing children with anointing and spitting in their mouths, mingled with salt and with many other lewd ceremonies, not one point of which is able to be proved in God's order." (Fox's Acts and Monuments, folio, vol. III, p. 400) All of which he calls "a mingle-mangle," and "a shameful blasphemy against Christ."
Chrism is another ceremony used both before and after baptism. The parts anointed, are the breast, shoulders, and head; the breast, that no remains of the latent enemy may reside in the person baptized; the shoulders, that he may be fortified and strengthened to do good works to the glory of God ; and the head, to denote, " that from the moment of his baptism, he is united as a member to Christ, his Head, and engrafted on his body; and that he is, therefore, called a Christian from Christ, as Christ is so called from Chrism."
This anointing is made in the form of a cross. On applying it to the shoulders, the priest says, "Flee, thou unclean spirit, give honor to the living and true God." On applying it to the breast, he says, "Go out, thou unclean spirit, give place to the Holy Ghost." And when he applies it to the head, he says to the candidate, "I anoint thee with the oil of salvation, that thou mayest have life everlasting."
The next ceremony is that of signing the infant with the sign of the cross. This is made in several parts of the body, especially the forehead, eyes, and ears, to declare, that "by the mystery of baptism, the senses of the person baptized are opened and strengthened, to enable him to receive God, and to understand and observe his commandments" and to signify that he is now consecrated by the cross to the service of Christ, and to a manful resistance against Satan. In ancient times, honey and milk, or wine and milk, were given after baptism, though the practice has now fallen into disuse. Infants were also admitted to the Lord's Supper. This custom continued for several centuries in the Latin Church, and is still preserved in the Greek Church.
Should the reader require proof of the use of these various observances, he may consult an able treatise On the Ancient Rites and Ceremonies of Baptism, by Joseph Vicecomes, a learned Papist, as he is denominated by Dr. Wall, where he will find them largely treated, and the authorities for them fully cited. These ceremonies are also fully rehearsed and condemned by the ancient Waldenses, in a tract on Antichrist, supposed to have been written early in the twelfth century.
It may, perhaps, be asked, to what purpose is this account of the ceremonies observed by Papists in the administration of baptism to infants, since they are not used by Protestant Pedobaptists? I answer, it is to show what a prominent place infant baptism, with the ostentatious ritual attending it, holds in the system Popery; and that, being thus interwoven with its very structure, and contributing largely to its pomp and parade, it may with propriety be called a part of it.
Besides, although the ceremonies above described are not all practiced now by any class of Protestant Pedobaptists, yet several of them are still retained by many who call themselves Protestants. Of this kind, are sponsors, the interrogations made to them, and the answers given in the name of infants, the renunciation of the devil and all his works ; and signing with the sign of the cross. And since these and the others all claim apostolical authority, and most of them, if not all, have as good and as early a pretension to it as infant baptism itself; those, who admit that on this footing, ought to admit these, its adjuncts, also. On this subject the reader is referred to a treatise by me, entitled, The Argument from Apostolical Tradition in Favor of Infant Baptism Considered.
Most of the ceremonies which have been mentioned are noticed by Basil, who lived in the fourth century, as then in use, and as derived, not from Scripture, but from tradition. Speaking of the sign of the cross in baptism, he says,
"We sign with the sign of the cross. Who has taught this in Scripture? We consecrate the water of baptism and the oil of unction, as well as him who receives baptism. From what Scriptures? Is it not from private and secret tradition? Moreover, the anointing with oil, what passage in Scripture teaches this? Now a man is thrice immersed; from whence is it derived or enjoined? Also the rest of what is done in baptism, as the renouncing of Satan and his angels; from what Scripture have we it? Is not this from private and secret tradition?" (De Spiritu Sancto, c. 27)
And, in like manner, Augustine speaks of exorcisms and exsufflations in baptism, as derived from ancient tradition, and of universal use in the church. (De Peccato Orig. L. IL c. 40. De Nupt. et concup. L. L c. 20: L. II. c. 18) Now, whoever receives infant baptism on the ground of apostolical tradition, ought to receive these also, since they rest on precisely the same foundation.
The various ceremonies noticed above, however they may have been subsequently modified and extended, all go back to a very remote antiquity. They are coeval with infant baptism itself, and some of them even preceded it. Pedobaptism was first recognized as an established institution of the church, in the early part of the fifth century. Several doctors in the preceding century had, indeed, espoused and asserted it, and the practice had gradually spread, especially in North Africa. But it was not until the provincial Council of Mileve, more correctly called the Council of Carthage, held about A.D., 418 that any canon was passed in its favor. This Bishop Taylor acknowledges. (Liberty of Prophesying Works, Vol. V. p. Eden's ed.)
Grotius also takes the same ground, and affirms this to be the first council in which the custom was mentioned with approbation. And Augustine, in his book against the Donatists, written before the meeting of this council, while he asserts that the church had always held infant baptism, and that it was most rightly believed to have been delivered by apostolical tradition, nevertheless confesses that as yet it had not been instituted or sanctioned by the decree of any council.
What, however, had not then been done, was effected soon afterwards, and, probably, in a great degree, through his own influence. At the council mentioned above, over which he himself presided, the following canon was enacted. "Also it is our pleasure, that whosoever denies that new-born infants ought to be baptized—let him be anathema." (Dupin's Eccl. History Vol. I. p. 635. Dublin, 1623)
The decrees of this council were sent to Pope Innocent I., and by him approved, thus identifying the then nascent Papacy with the earliest canonical sanction of infant baptism. If then, this rite first received the authority of law from a Popish council, and was first confirmed as an established rule by the Pope himself, may it not well be called a part of Popery? The two are in fact indissolubly united—one in their origin, their growth, and their results. The same mother-heresy—Baptismal Regeneration—which gave birth to Popery, gave birth to Infant Baptism. They were engendered in the same dark womb of ignorance and superstition. They came forth together. They grew up together. Together they overspread the nations. And together shall they disappear before the light of Christ's Gospel, and the brightness of his coming.
Further, baptism by immersion, which for thirteen hundred years was generally observed in the Latin Church, and is still universally practiced in the Greek Church, was first changed into sprinkling by the Papists. This was not a mere change in the form of baptism. It was the abrogation of baptism itself. For it is not, as some consider, a matter of indifference whether much or little water is used in baptism. Immersion belongs to the very essence of baptism, and without it, there can be no baptism. As Sir John Floyer observes, "it is no circumstance, but the very act of baptism."(Essay to Restore Dipping, p. 44) The same writer also declares, that "aspersion, or sprinkling, was brought into the church by the Popish Schoolmen, and that the English Dissenters adopted it from them. The Schoolmen employed their wits to find out reasons for the alteration to sprinkling, and brought it into use in the twelfth century."
And it must be observed, to the honor of the Church of England that it has not established sprinkling in baptism to this day; sprinkling being permitted only when it is certified, that the child is weak, and not able to bear dipping. In all other cases, the Rubric orders the priest to dip the child warily. The legal sanction of sprinkling in Great Britain came from the Presbyterians during the civil war. The Westminster Assembly of Divines decided for sprinkling against dipping by a majority of only one; twenty-five voting for it, and twenty-four in opposition to it. On their recommendation, it was established by Act of Parliament in 1664. They borrowed it from Geneva; and Geneva borrowed it from Rome.
That this innovation had its rise from the authority of the Pope, Dr. Wall himself acknowledges, when he affirms that the sprinkling of infants is from Popery:
"All the nations of Christians," he says, "that do now, or formerly did, submit to the authority of the Bishop of Rome, do ordinarily baptize their infants by pouring or sprinkling. And though the English received not this custom till after the decay of Popery, yet they have since received it from such neighboring nations as had begun it in the time of the Pope's power. But all other Christians in the world, who never owned the Pope's usurped power, do, and ever did, dip their infants in their ordinary use." (History of Infant Baptism, Vol. II. p. 414. Oxford, 1838)
Thus does it appear that infant baptism, both with respect to its subjects, and the mode in which it is now administered, may with great propriety be called a part and branch of Popery. But not only is it a part of Popery, and thus contributing to strengthen it, as a part does the whole. It is, moreover, its pillar and main support. It is the source from which Romanists, in contending with Protestants, draw the strongest arguments in favor of their traditions, and of the authority of the church to alter the rites of divine worship, on which, as we have seen, the essential characteristics of Popery depend.
Papal disputants sadly embarrass Protestant Pedobaptists when they bring forward infant baptism and urge their opponents to prove it by Scripture, both in its subjects and in its mode, and if they cannot do this, then either to give it up entirely, or allow of unscriptural traditions and the authority of the church. Thus adding the perplexing question that if they admit unwritten traditions and the custom of the church in one case, why do they reject them in others? This way of arguing, as Mr. Stennett observes (Answer to Russen, p. 173, et sequiter), was used by Cardinal Du Perron in his reply to King James I, and by Mr. John Ainsworth against Mr. Henry Ainsworth, and by Fisher, the Jesuit, against Archbishop Laud.
An amusing incident of a similar kind is told concerning a Mr. Jeremiah Ives, a Baptist minister, famous for his talent at disputation, who lived in the time of King Charles II. The king having heard of his peculiar skill sent for him to dispute with a Romish priest. This he did, in the presence of the king and of many others, dressed in the habit of an Episcopal clergyman. Mr. Ives pressed the priest closely, showing that to whatever antiquity Romanists pretended, their doctrines and practices could by no means be proved to be apostolical since they are not to be found in any writings which remain of the apostolic age.
The priest, after much wrangling, at last replied, that this argument of Mr. Ives was of as much force against infant baptism, as against the doctrines and ceremonies of the Church of Rome. To which Mr. Ives answered, that he readily granted what he said to be true. On this, the priest broke up the conference, saying that he had been cheated, and would proceed no farther, for he came to dispute with a clergyman of the established Church, and it was now evident that this was an Anabaptist preacher. The behavior of the priest afforded his majesty, and all present, not a little diversion.'
As Protestant Pedobaptists are urged by this argument to admit the unwritten traditions of the Papists, so Pedobaptist Dissenters are pressed on the same ground to comply with those ceremonies of the Church of England which have been retained from the Church of Rome. Dr. Whitby employs this argument with special force, when, after having pleaded for some condescension to Dissenters, in order to reconcile them to the Church, he adds,
"And, on the other hand, if notwithstanding the evidence produced, that baptism by immersion is suitable to the institution both of our Lord and His Apostles, and was by them ordained to represent our burial with Christ, and so our dying unto sin, and our conformity to his resurrection by newness of life, as the Apostle clearly maintains the meaning of that rite, if I say notwithstanding this, all our Dissenters"—Pedobaptist Dissenters he must mean—"do agree to sprinkle the baptized infant, why may they not as well submit to the significant ceremonies imposed by our Church?
“For, since it is as lawful to add to Christ's institutions a significant ceremony, as to diminish a significant ceremony which He or His Apostles instituted, and use another in its stead, which they never did institute, what reason can they have to do the latter, and yet refuse submission to the former? And why should not the peace and union of the church be as prevailing with them, to perform the one, as is their mercy to the infant's body, to neglect the other?" (Protestant Reconciler, p. 289)
Thus infant baptism is used as the grand plea for compliance with the ceremonies both of the Church of Rome and the Church of England. It is, therefore, the chief prop of these Antichristian Hierarchies—the final appeal to which they resort for countenance in their unscriptural practices. And so triumphant is this appeal, that no Pedobaptist Protestant or Dissenter has ever been able to stand before it.
Further, it is by means of infant baptism that "the Man of Sin" has spread his baneful influence over many nations. This is abundantly evident from the fact, that through the christening of children, introduced by him, he has made whole nations nominally Christian, and has applied to them the designation of Christendom, thus extending the limits of his universal church, over which, as the pretended Vicar of Christ on earth, he claims absolute power and authority. By the same means, he retains his influence over these nations, keeps them in awe of his spiritual prerogatives, and holds them in servile subjection to his will.
With this view, he sedulously inculcates the pernicious dogma that by their baptism, received in infancy, they are brought into the fold of the church, within which there is salvation, and out of which there is none, and that therefore, if they renounce their baptism, or apostatize from the church, they consign themselves to inevitable damnation. Thus, by his menaces and anathemas, he maintains his usurped dominion over the submissive and trembling nations. And if, at any time, one of these nations has courage to oppose him, and to act in disobedience to his mandates, he immediately lays under an interdict, suspending the sacraments, all public prayers, burials, and christenings, closing the churches, and forbidding the clergy to administer their functions to any but those who at a great price purchase the privilege from Rome. (Abstract of the History of Popery, Part I, p. 468)
By a superstitious dread of these prohibitions, particularly that which withholds baptism from children, nations are induced to comply with the demands of the Papal power, however oppressive and tyrannical they may be. For it appears most dreadful to parents, that their children should be deprived of baptism, by which, as they are taught to believe, they are made Christians, and without which there is no salvation. Hence whole kingdoms have been known to yield to the most arbitrary exactions of Rome, rather than lose what is deemed so very important. What a tremendous influence, therefore, must infant baptism give to Popery; and how cunningly is it adapted to uphold its power.
But the baneful influence, which Antichrist has extended over the nations, through infant baptism, is yet further seen in that poisonous notion propagated by him that the sacraments, and especially baptism, confer grace by their intrinsic efficacy "ex opere operato” [Latin, meaning “by the work worked”] from the mere fact of their administration. In other words, he has taught that baptism takes away sin, regenerates men, and saves their souls. This is charged upon him by the ancient Waldenses in the treatise on Antichrist to which I have already referred. Speaking of the corruptions of the Papal Hierarchy, they say, "The third work of Antichrist consists in this, that he attributes the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit to the dead, outward act of baptism. In this faith, he baptizes children, teaching that salvation is thus to be obtained. On this ground, he confers orders and other sacraments; and thereon builds all his Christianity. All which is against the Holy Spirit." (Morland's Hist. of the Churches of Piedmont, p. 148)
The same Popish notion is argued against and exposed by Robert Smith, the martyr, in his examination before Bonner. In reply to a statement of the latter, that "infants are damned if they die without being baptized," he asked this question, "I pray you, my lord, show me, are we saved by water or by Christ?"
To which Bonner answered, "By both."
"Then," said Smith, "the water died for our sins, and so must ye say that the water hath life, and it being our servant, and created for us, is our Saviour. This, my lord, is a good doctrine, is it not?" (Fox's Acts and Monuments, folio, Vol. III, p. 400)
The leaven of this old and destructive error yet remains even in some Protestant churches, which have retained it from Rome. Hence a child, when baptized, is declared to be regenerate, and thanks are returned to God, that it is regenerate. And when it is capable of being catechised, it is taught to say that in its baptism, it was made a child of God, a member of Christ, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven.
Such instruction cannot but have a powerful tendency to take off all concern from persons when grown up, respecting any vital change of heart, as necessary to prepare them for heaven, and to encourage in them the fatal presumption that, notwithstanding their evident want of grace, they yet are members of Christ, and shall never perish —are children and heirs of God, and, therefore, must certainly inherit eternal life.
The father of lies himself, as Dr. Owen justly observes (Theologoumena, L. VI. o. III. p. 477), could not have devised a more pernicious doctrine, or one more calculated to insure the final ruin of the soul. If then, through infant baptism, this fatal heresy reigns supreme in lands Papal, and is still widely diffused and powerful in lands Protestant, are we not warranted in saying, that by means of infant baptism Antichrist has spread his baneful influence over the nations?