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The oft-repeated verse, "Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven," does not justify infant baptism. For what purpose were these children taken to Christ? That he should baptize them? Evidently not; for he did not baptize. Were they taken to him that his disciples might baptize them? If so, it is marvellous that the disciples rebuked those who had charge of them. The preceding verse shows why these children were taken to Christ: "Then were brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them and pray and the disciples rebuked them" (Matt. xix. 13). There was a specific object in view. It was not that the "little children" might be baptized, but that the Saviour might put his hands on them and pray. Who has the right to infer that these children were baptized, or that baptism was mentioned in their presence? The sacred narrative is silent on the subject; and it may be said with positive certainty that the New Testament, from the birth of John the Baptist to the death of Christ, says nothing concerning infant baptism. If, however, Pedobaptists should admit this, they would still insist—many of them, at least that there is authority for their practice bearing date subsequent to the Redeemer's death and resurrection. We shall see whether there is such
The Commission given by the Saviour to his apostles just before his ascension to heaven furnishes no plea for infant baptism.
The circumstances connected with the giving of this Commission were replete with interest. The Lord Jesus had finished the work which he came down from heaven to accomplish. He had offered himself a sacrifice for sin. He had exhausted the cup of atoning sorrow. He had lain in the dark mansions of the grave. He had risen in triumph from the dead, and was about to ascend to the right hand of the Majesty on high. Invested with perfect mediatorial authority, he said to his apostles, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Mark records the same Commission thus: "" Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Luke's record is this: "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise
from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Matt. xxviii. 18, 19, 20; Mark xvi. 15, 16; Luke xxiv. 46, 47).
Surely the language of this Commission is plain. Matthew informs us that teaching—or making disciples; for the Greek verb means "to disciple" or "to make disciples ❞—is to precede baptism, Mark establishes the priority of faith to baptism, and Luke connects repentance and remission of sins with the execution of the Commission. No man can, in obedience to this Commission, baptize either an unbeliever or an infant. The unbeliever is not a penitent disciple, and it is impossible for an infant to repent and believe the gospel.
It may be laid down as a principle of common sense which commends itself to every unprejudiced mind that a commission to do a thing or things authorizes only the doing of the thing or things specified in it. The doing of all other things is virtually forbidden. There is a maxim of law: Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.* It must be so; for otherwise there could be no definiteness in contracts between men, and no precision in either the enactments of legislative bodies or in the decrees of courts of justice. This maxim may be illustrated in a thousand ways. Numerous scriptural *"The expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.”
illustrations are at hand; I will name a few. God commanded Noah to build an ark of gopher-wood. He assigns no reason why gopher-wood should be used. The command, however, is positive, and it forbids the use of any other kind of wood for that purpose. Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac for a burnt-offering. He was virtually forbidden to offer any other member of his family. Ay, more, he could not offer an animal till the original order was revoked by him who gave it, and a second order was given requiring the sacrifice of a ram in the place of Isaac. The institution of the passover furnishes a striking illustration, or rather a series of illustrations. A lamb was to be killed-not a heifer; it was to be of the first year-not of the second or third; a male-not a female; without blemish-not with blemish; on the fourteenth day of the month— not on some other day; the blood to be applied to the door-posts and lintels-not elsewhere. These illustrations are all scriptural, but I may refer also to the Constitution of the United States. It says of the President: "He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the senators present concur." This language in effect forbids the making of a treaty by the President alone, or by the President and the House of Representatives in Congress, or by the
President and the Supreme Court. It pronounces invalid a treaty made by the President and a majority of "senators present," for there must be "two-thirds." The Constitution declares that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole power of impeachment," and the Senate "shall have the sole power to try all impeachments." Here the Senate is as effectually inhibited from the "power of impeachment" as is the House of Representatives from the power of trying "impeachments." Neither the President, the Supreme Court, nor the Senate can impeach, but the House of Representatives alone. The President, the Supreme Court, and the House of Representatives combined cannot "try impeachments," but the Senate alone.
In application of the principle laid down and of the law-maxim illustrated, I affirm that the Commission of Christ to the apostles, in requiring them to baptize disciples-believers-forbids, in effect, the baptism of all others. It will not do to say that we are not forbidden in so many words to baptize infants. The same may be said of unbelievers, and even of horses and sheep and bells.
This examination of the Commission fully authorizes me to say that it furnishes no plea for infant baptism. But it will be said-for it has been said a thousand times-that if infants are not to be baptized