WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL PLEASE GOD BUT GOD HIMSELF
CAN THAT BE OBEDIENCE WHICH HAS NO COMMAND FOR IT?
AND IF NOT OBEDIENCE IS IT NOT DISOBEDIENCE?
(Furnished by Curtis Pugh, Romania)
The following is
An Excerpt From the Book
THE SCRIPTURAL AND HISTORICAL ARGUMENTS
FOR INFANT BAPTISM EXAMINED
J. Torrey Smith
Published by the
American Baptist Publication Society
(Complete and Unabridged)
INFANT BAPTISM, IF NOT COMMANDED IN THE WORD OF GOD, IS FORBIDDEN.
I have already shown that most Pedobaptist writers concede that the Bible contains no command expressly enjoining infant baptism. Some go so far as to claim that the demand for such an express requirement is unreasonable. (footnote: Dr. Peters on Baptism, p. 160).
But IS this demand unreasonable? On the contrary, is it not the ground which every Christian should take, and strenuously insist upon, to admit no religious rite, without a peremptory challenge for its authority; and to admit none, without express Divine command, or clear Apostolical precedent; whatever other claims it may put forth? If the history of the Church teaches any lesson, this is written as with a sunbeam.
If infant baptism be a duty, it is a positive duty. All must admit that it is not a moral duty. It does not „arise out of the nature of the case, prior to external command,” the terms in which Bishop Butler defines moral duties. But if not a moral duty, it is a positive duty. Will any one join issue with Bishop Butler in the following proposition: „Positive duties do not arise out of the nature of the case, but from external command; NOR WOULD THEY BE DUTIES AT ALL, WERE IT NOT FOR SUCH COMMAND RECEIVED FROM HIM WHOSE CREATURES AND SUBJECTS WE ARE.” (footnote: Analogy, Part 2, Chap. I.) This is our position in relation to infant baptism; it cannot be a duty without express command or clear inspired precedent. Of those who would impose it upon us, we demand that express authority, and whoever claims that we are unreasonable in that demand, must join issue with Bishop Butler in the declaration above.
How earnestly Baxter pleads for the same principle, in the following words: „Who knows what will please God but himself? And has he not told us what he expects of us? Can that be obedience which has no command for it? Is not this to supererogate, and to be righteous overmuch? Is not this to accuse God’s ordinances of insufficiency, as well as his word; as if they were not sufficient to please him, or help our own graces? O the pride of man’s heart, that instead of being a law-obeyer, will be a law-maker!”
But I do not base this principle on the authority of Butler, or Baxter, or a score of others whom I might quote, who state it as distinctly and strongly as they have. In Col. 2:20-22, the principle is clearly laid down, that all religious rites not expressly required, are forbidden. „Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in it, are ye subject to ordinances, after the commandments and doctrines of men?” This principle is a broad one, covering all religious rites, infant baptism with the rest. (And what other things shall we properly include in our Baptist Church meetings besides those things commanded or Apostolical? Do we think to please God by observing what He has NOT commanded? Are not the pagan holiday observances of „Christmas” and „Easter” equally as un-commanded and non-Apostolical as infant baptism and therefore are their observances in our Church meetings equally as disobedient as would be infant baptism? And so with all innovations such as the giving of „invitations” to come to the front which have been brought into Baptist Churches and which are not commanded by God or possessed of Apostolic precedent. C.A.P.) Christians are here expressly required not to be subject to ordinances, after the commandments and doctrines of men. Infant baptism is maintained as an ordinance binding on the Church. If so, it must have had an ordainer. But it is admitted that God has not commanded it, and that there is no clear Apostolical precedent for it. But if God has not commanded it, it is a commandment of men, and we are forbidden to be subject to any such ordinances. It is forbidden in the next verse as will worship; i.e. those who practice religious rites not commanded of God, worship God according to their own will, and not according to his will.
We are sometimes asked for an express prohibition of infant baptism. (And today some ask for an express prohibition against „Christmas”, „Easter”, „invitations”, and other innovations. And Bro. Smith’s answers equally apply to these innovations as to infant baptism. If we allow one, in order to be consistent we must allow all the others! C.A.P.). As well might the Pharisees have asked where in the Old Testament were their traditions expressly forbidden. The Bible must have been a large book to have prohibited in terms every false notion the human mind might conceive, down to the end of time; and the Catholic has as good a right to demand a prohibition of holy water, and the sign of the cross, or of auricular confession, as the Protestant Pedobaptist has to demand a prohibition of infant baptism. (Or the modern Baptist to demand a prohibition against the observance of holidays and other modern innovations. C.A,P.). But by this one principle not only infant baptism, but infant communion, invocation of saints, prayers for the dead, the use of holy water, the sign of the cross and anointing with oil in baptism, auricular confession, penances and pilgrimages – in short, all religious rites not commanded – are forbidden. Dr. Sherlock, answering such a claim made by Catholics in his day, says, „They make the demand with just as much reason as if one should tell me that by the laws of England, every man is bound to marry at twenty years old; and when I desire him to show me the law which makes this necessary, he would answer, though he cannot show me such a law, yet it may be necessary, unless I can show him a law which expressly declares it is not necessary. Whereas nothing is necessary but what the law makes so; and if the law has not made it necessary, there is no need of any law to declare that it is not necessary.”
(Brethren, how shall we please God except by obedience? And since God alone knows what will please Him, are we not obligated to do those things which He has commanded? And do we think to obey God when we obey the traditions of men and do those things which God has not commanded? And if our innovations are not obedience to God’s commands, are they not disobedience? Let us be Biblical Baptists in both our doctrine and practice! C.A.P.).