May 2, 2011

Infant Salvation

Infant Salvation

Mitchell, William M.

It is frequently the subject of anxious inquiry, by many persons, to know on what principle those who die in infancy can be saved. Strictly speaking there are but two systems of salvation contended for by the whole body of the religious world. There are supposed to be one thousand different religious sects now in the world: yet, divided and subdivided, as they are, so far as relates to, eternal salvation, all their creeds are merged into a conditional system of salvation. Of these thousand sects I know of but one denomination that holds exclusively to an unconditional system. The other the eternal salvation of the sinner to be dependant on conditions to be performed by the sinner, without the performance of which he will he eternally damned and lost forever. This conditional system represents God as simply proposing or offering salvation to all of Adam's race, on certain terms or conditions, to be accepted or rejected by each individual. If the terms are accepted and the conditions complied with,, eternal salvation is secured to each. If the terms are rejected, then the sinner is damned for rejecting the offers of mercy. Popular as this system is, and sustained by all the logic that a powerful and learned ministry can bring to bear, its effects in reaching the little infant, the idiot, and the untutored savage are so apparent to every thinking mind that various other plans have been thought necessary to reach the condition of these classes. It is well known that infants, idiots, maniacs and untutored heathen die as well as the "wise and prudent" of the world, and as they are totally incapable of understanding or complying with the terms or conditions of salvation, some other method must be invented, or it must be given up that there is no possible salvation for them. In order to evade this very unpopular, as well as absurd. conclusion. some have contented that little infants are not sinners, and consequently are saved on that ground. But if not a sinner what is it saved from? It could not be delivered from sin, if not ill any sense involved in it. If not a sinner, who is its savior? Surely not Jesus Christ, for his "name shall be called Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins."--Matt. 1:21. Certainly, then "his people" of every nation, kindred and tongue, and of every age or class of life, are involved in sin, else it could not be said, he shall save them from their sins.

It is very evident from the Scriptures that there is but one plan of salvation, and that is Jesus Christ. "This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner: neither is there salvation in any other." This salvation, therefore, is not in means instrumentalities of man's invention or performing'; not in terms or conditions which he may accept; or reject; not in a state of innocence or of non-accountability to God's law, but in Jesus Christ. and him alone. Every qualification to make eternal salvation sure to every heir of promise, is in Jesus Christ, otherwise he had as well made no atonement for sin at all. If he had made nothing sure or perfect by his obedience, sufferings and death, then all are left under the same old legal system to work out a righteousness of their own, which at best could only secure temporal blessings, and not eternal things. "The law," with all its rights and ceremonies, even when strictly observed, "made nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope through Jesus Christ made everything perfect by the which we draw nigh to God."--Heb. 7:I9.

But I wish here to notice briefly another point upon which some base the salvation of infants and idiots; that is on the ground of their non-accountability for sin. They admit what the word of. God plainly declares, "that by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world and death by Sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."--Rom. 5 :12. But they hold that for that original sin they are not acceptable, neither is any human being accountable until they live a certain number of years in the world, and cross, as they say, the "line of accountability." But what would the great God do with those who are not accountable to his holy law? He could not condemn them by the law that holds no charge against them! He could not redeem them from the curse of the law, when, indeed, they are not cursed or condemned by it! Hence we see that the "legs of the lame are not equal;" and being muddy and confused in mind on the great leading system of salvation by sovereign grace alone will lead to various other absurdities of those contending for a condition system of salvation be "Legion," yet, like their great type, when they come to tell each other and the world what the terms and conditions of salvation are, their language is all confused as on the walls of Babel. One says it is one thing, and another says it is another. But all agree that the main turning point of salvation is to comply with the terms which the Lord simply offers. Protestant sects say the terms are one thing, and the Catholics have several other things, such as confessing to the priest, praying out of purgatory, etc. The Mahometan says the conditions are prayer, fasting and alms. Prayer puts the sinner on the way to heaven, fasting brings him to the door, and alms lets him in. And thus Christ and his righteousness are of no avail on this conditional system only as these terms performed by sinners give virtue to his blood. What a shocking thought this is!

I now propose to show by the most positive and clear scriptural testimony the only plan that can possibly save an infant, or anybody else. Tim doctrine of salvation by sovereign grace alone is the only system ever published to the world that gives the least hope of salvation for those who die in infancy, or for any other character. If infants are not sinners and do not stand in the same relation to the law of God that all others do, they could not die. "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law."--1Cor. 15. Adam embodied all his posterity, and when he transgressed the law of God all the human family sinned in that transgression. "Wherefore as by the offense of one, death reigned by one, and judgment came upon all men to condemnation. Rom. 5:15. It is therefore appointed unto all men "once to die." The fact that some infants die, establishes the testimony of the Scriptures that all have sinned. How then can they be saved from sin? Of course, not by works of their own, either good or bad. Our Lord Jesus Christ has said, "No man can come unto the Father but by me." There is no other name, given under heaven or among men, whereby we must be saved. If then there is but one way whereby a sinner can be saved, and that one way is Christ, then the notion that infants are saved by their innocence, their non-accountability, or by the piety, faith or works of their parents, cannot be true. How strange to think that the piety and works of parents can save ,their children, when. these things cannot be available in their own salvation. We have already said there is but one plan of salvation, and this only plan is perfectly adapted in all its parts to the final salvation and glorification of the little infant. Salvation is of the Lord, and therefore by grace and meets, in every particular, the wants of the most needy and helpless case. We will here note a few things as necessary to eternal salvation that the eterna1 self-existent, God should predestinate it and all the means by which it is to be obtained. "Having predestined unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will." A conformity to the image of Jesus Christ is necessary, and this is the result of God's predestination. Predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.--Eph. 1 1:5, and Rom. 8:29. Second, it is necessary that God should require that every subject of salvation should be holy and without blame before him. This is obtained, as the result of election "Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."—Eph. 1:4. We see that the result of God's choice is to make a poor, helpless and polluted sinner holy and blameless before him. "God hath not appointed us to wrath (as some affirm), but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."--I Thess. 5:9. If the gracious God hath appointed any to obtain salvation, and the name and medium through which they are to obtain it, then it is vain to, think of obtaining it through personal innocence, non-accountability, piety of parents, or in any other way than what God hath appointed. He does not simply propose or offer salvation to the helpless, but he appoints that they shall obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. "He is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him." There never has been, nor never will be, another one saved but those who come to God by Christ. They must come in his atonement, and in his righteousness. Cannot a poor ,little, helpless infant come through that channel as easily as an old practical sinner? Is not the adult expressly told that he must receive the kingdom of God as a little child, or he can in no wise enter?---Luke 18:17.

Third, redemption is necessary to salvatio, and this by our Lord Jesus Christ. If infants are not under the law of sin and death and cursed by it in common with all of Adam's posterity, they can never join in that heaven song of praise with other redeemed sinners, and say, Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue and nation, and hast loved us, and washed us from our sin sills in his own blood.--Rev. 1:5, and 5:9. If infants are not sinners, they have no sins to wash away by the merit of the blood of Christ, and therefore can not claim Christ as their Savior and Redeemer, for he saves and redeems none but sinners. But here is a door of hope for the infant, and there is no other channel through which it, or any other, can be saved. "It is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Shall we teach a doctrine that would forever exclude the infant and the idiot from that salvation in Jesus Christ which has through free grace provided for helpless sinners? If proud men cannot have some honor in salvation, by performing certain conditions, to give efficiency to the work of Christ, will he still teach a system that would forever exclude these poor little creatures? Salvation by grace meets their condition. "This is worthy of all acceptation." Let none reject this on the ground of its inefficiency. It is worthy and meritorious--saves to the uttermost, fully and completely, the worst and the most helpless cases.

Fourth. a spotless and perfect righteousness is necessary to eternal salvation. Not simply a righteousness of the law, which a person may obtain by conforming to certain legal requisitions, but a righteousness wholly of God. This no mortal can obtain by works of the law. Christ has fulfilled the law in every particular, as the representative of all his people. Whose sins he bore in his own body on the cross, and the righteousness of that law is fulfilled in all in whom Christ is revealed, and they are thereby made free from the law of sill and death. But still there is another, and perhaps higher sense in which we might consider the righteousness of God as necessary to eternal glory. "The righteousness of Cod without the law."--Rom. 3:21. This is the essential righteousness of God, all inherent principle of his divine nature; it is the "ever-lasting righteousness" which Christ brought in when he abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Every soul that receives this justifying righteousness is perfectly passive in the hands of God, as much so as clay in the hands of the potter. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." We are made the "righteousness of God in Christ.--2Cor.5:21. And Christ is of God made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption."--1Cor. 1:30.

Fifth, justification is necessary to eternal salvation. This is also of God. "For whom did he predestinate them he also called: and whom he called them he also justified' freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.--Rom. 8:30, and 8:24. "Who then will lay anything to the charge of God's elect? God that justifies? Christ that died and rose again for them? Surely not.

Sixth, a spiritual birth is necessary to salvation. "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." This is entirely of God, and the mightiest intellect on earth has no more to do with it than the feeblest infant: for they are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."--John 1:13. Does this doctrine exclude the infant from salvation? or does it not rather show that the adult is as dependent on the Lord to bestow salvation upon him as an infant is?

The last point we shall here make is simply to say that "All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ."--1Cor. 5:18. All things in reference to our being in Christ are of God, and not of man. Our righteousness is. of him; our justification is of him' our redemption is of him; the quickening of the spirit and the application of redemption is of him; and he,-me our final and eternal salvation is of him, from first to last, and to !fire be all the glory. Seeing that these are facts not to be denied, what then is there in the way of infant salvation, any more than any other character? God hath concluded all under sin, that he might have mercy." And salvation is "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. --Rom. 9. Therefore we see that a system of salvation by grace alone as contended for and held by-all consistent Primitive Baptists, is the only doctrine that affords the least hope of salvation for little helpless infants, or anybody else.

In conclusion, I will here say that any doctrine that is preached to adult sinners, that will not embrace infants;, or an idiot, is wrong, and should at once be given up. We are told, however, that faith and repentance are necessary for adults, but not necessary for infants. Very true; but are not faith and repentance also of grace, as much as any other point in salvation? Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." 1 John 5:1. Faith is the evidence of the new birth, and not the cause of it. As to repentance, it is the goodness of God, and not the goodness of man, that leadeth to repentance.--Rom. 2:4. -The power and grace that could teach a their on the cross, and could impart spiritual life to John the Baptist before he was born. and sanctify Jeremiah before his birth can and does reach the dying infant. Can we not trust our dear little infants, and all others, to his gracious hand? Abraham, when exercised by that faith that God had given him, was ready to offer up to God his only Son; and if we have the same faith will it not subdue our fears, and cause us to yield up ourselves and our children to his heavenly care?

Having extended this article to a much greater length than at first anticipated, I will bring it to a close. May the Lord guide all his dear children into all truth, for Jesus' sake.


---In Signs of The Times. 1870.

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