Dr. Thomas O. Summers, in his paper of March 29th, crowds his Presbyterian friends very closely on the subject of “Elect Infants” and infant damnation; and copies the following to show that they are guilty:
“Every theologian knows that not only Calvin, but also the divines who constructed the original doctrinal standards of the Calvinistic churches, held and taught that only a part of those dying in infancy are saved. Some, like Paraeis and Zanchius, held that only a portion, even of the children of believing parents, so dying, are saved—probably the same proportion as among those living to grow up. The majority, however, always drew the line among those dying in infancy, so as to include in the number of the elect all children of believing parents, and to exclude from it all, or at any rate the great mass of the children of infidels and heathen. Thus the Seventeenth Article promulgated by the Synod of Dort reads is as follows:
“‘Seeing that we are to judge of the will of God by his word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not indeed by nature, but by the benefit of the covenant of grace in which they are comprehended along with their parents, pious parents ought not to doubt of the election and salvation of their children whom God hath called in infancy out of this life.’
“Twisse, prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly, says: ‘Many thousands, even all the infants of Turks and Saracens, dying in original sin, are tormented by him (the Deity) in hell fire.’ Calvin himself says that God ‘precipitates into death harmless infants, torn from their mothers’ breasts.’ And again: ‘What other than the good pleasure of God is the cause why the fall of Adam involved in eternal and remediless death whole nations with their infant offspring?
“The Westminster Assembly declares, in their Confession, that original sin alone is sufficient to subject a soul to death eternal; and Twisse, their prolocutor, says; ‘Every man that is damned, it is for original as well as actual sin, and many thousands of infants only for original’ In fact, should we adduce a tenth part of the evidence that the original faith and teaching of the Calvinistic churches was as above stated, it would be entirely too voluminous for any ordinary article. Fortunately the task is entirely unnecessary. Every intelligent student of Christian doctrine understands the facts. So universal and outspoken was this faith in the Presbyterian churches in the seventeenth century (the century of the great Westminster Assembly and Synod of Dort), that Henry Alting, an influential member of the last-named body, and one of the most eminent authorities of his time, indignantly repudiates the allegation that his co-religionists held to the salvation of all dying in infancy. He declares that no one of their theologians, reputed orthodox, ever said or wrote any such thing. He affirms that they all discriminate among the dying children, holding to the salvation of those of believing parents, but leaving the others to their merited fate. He even pronounces the charge of holding to the salvation of all dying infants a baseless slander, a ‘calumnia, noticing it is a series of such false charges.”—Theo’ogia Elenctia, 1674, p. 377.
Should it be asked, Who are “Elect Infants?” Dr. Charles Hodge, in the Princeton Review, of 1858, answers: “The status of baptized children is not a vague or uncertain one, according to the doctrine of the Reformed churches. [Does this include the Methodist church?] They are members of the church; they are professing Christians; they belong presumptively to the number of the elect.” Mr. Wesley declares, as the doctrine oi his church, that “It is certain, by God’s word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are saved.” (Doctrinal Tracts, p. 247.) Will Dr. Summers please refer us to the portion pf God’s Word that teaches the above? While Methodists deny infant damnation, I am unable to see why they are not quite as guilty as Presbyterians. Wesley quotes Origen approvingly as saying: “Infants are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. ** And it is for that reason, because, by the sacrament of baptism the pollution of our birth is taken away that infants are baptised” (Doctrinal Tracts, p. 277.) Again Wesley says: “By baptism we, who were by nature the children of wrath, are made the children of God. (Ibid., p. 24S.) If we are made the children of God by baptism, can persons not baptized be the children of God? Will Dr. S answer?
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