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First. The Jews circumcised their male children only, but the Christians baptize (rantize) both male and female.

Second. The Jews never circumcised a child under eight days old. In ordinary cases, no other day would answer. A weekly sabbath might be profaned, that the law of Moses (respecting circumcision) might not be broken: but the Christians baptize their children at any age. If they are sick, and likely to die, a priest is called to baptize them before they are half eight days old.

Third. Circumcision was never a priestly rite among the Jews, but fathers, mothers, masters, and neighbors, did the work; but infant baptism is supposed to belong to the priests. Gospel baptism is certainly to be performed by those who are sent to teach.

Fourth. Circumcision was performed by drawing blood from the subjects, but infant baptism by applying water to them. Gospel baptism, by burying the candidate in water.

Fifth. Circumcision left a mark in the flesh, but baptism leaves none.

Sixth. Circumcision was not performed on the faith of the parent, but by the express command of God; but infant baptism is done on the faith of the parent, without any command of God.

Seventh. Circumcision distinguished the church from the world, but infant baptism unites them together.

Eighth. All that were circumcised ate of the passover, but baptized infants do not eat at the Lord’s table.

Ninth. If native innocency entitles them to baptism, as some think, why does not the same innocence entitle them to the eucharist?

Tenth. If infants are fit for heaven, and, therefore, for for baptism, why not fit for church-fellowship and communion.

Eleventh. If children are innocent, they are not proper subjects for baptism; for baptism, in every case, but that of Jesus presupposes repentance, Christianity being a religion for sinners, and not for holy beings.

Twelfth. But, if infants are sinful, how can they be entitled to baptism before they repent of their sins, and bring forth the fruits of repentance?

Thirteenth. Whatever circumcision, under the law, figured out in gospel times, it was something to be done without the hands of men: “Being circumcised with the circumcision made without hands,” says Paul. Now, as all kinds of water-baptism are performed by the hands of men, the conclusion is in point, that baptism is not the antitype for circumcision.

Fourteenth. If children, by being baptized, are brought within the covenanted mercies of God, as is often said, the covenant is either conditional or unconditional. If the covenant is unconditional, all of them will be saved, for God never fails; but if the covenant is conditional, the conditions rest either with the parent or the child. If with the parent, it stands thus: if the parent does his duty, the child will be saved. This grounds the salvation of one upon the obedience of another, and not on the atoning blood of Christ. And, besides, if Noah, Daniel, and Job, could save neither son nor daughter by their own righteousness, can any others do it? How would every humble man, who loves the souls of his children, shudder, if he knew that the salvation of them depended on his own obedience. But if the conditions rest with the baptized child, I am at a loss to know what duties he owes to God or man, more than those children that were never baptized.

Fifteenth. The circumcised Jew, though he knew not when he was circumcised, yet knew that he was circumcised, by the mark in his flesh, and therefore had not to depend on what others told him; but the baptized infant has no mark, and has to rest his faith on human testimony.

Sixteenth. Gospel baptism is said to be “the answer of a good conscience.” but what conscience a young infant can have, about that which he knows nothing of, I cannot tell.

Seventeenth. Is there an error in christendom, which has prevailed as extensively as infant baptism, and yet admits of so feeble support?

Eighteenth. If God made that covenant of grace with Abraham, which secures the salvation of souls, it follows of course, that all who died before the covenant was made, are lost.

Nineteenth. When a minister dips his hand in water, and sprinkles the face of a child, would there be a greater correspondence between his words and his actions, to say, “I baptize my hand,” than to say, “I baptize this child?”

Twentieth. Should an angel descend from heaven and address a man as follows: “Some baptize infants without their consent, or knowledge, by sprinkling water in their faces. Other baptize adults on a confession of their repentance for sin, and their faith in the Lord Jesus, by burying their bodies in water. Now, which of these modes is according to the will of Christ? The salvation of your soul depends upon a right judgment. Judge right, and you shall live – judge wrong, and you shall be damned.” Should a man be thus addressed, with the Bible in his hand, what answer would he make? Or would it be in this case, as in many others, that men think more of will and wealth than they do of the salvation of their souls?

Twenty-first. When a heathen forsook his idols, and was proselyted to the Jewish religion, all his males were to be circumcised, before he cold eat the passover: but is there any account in rabbinical or Christian history, that the Jewish priests ever baptized the proselytes with water at their admission? If there is, the important question follows, what orders to do it had they from their great law-giver?

Twenty-second. That John the Baptist was of the priestly line, is certain, but that he was consecrated, or officiated as a Jewish priest, is denied with almost the same certainty. He was as great a stranger to killing sacrifices, burning incense, lighting lamps, etc., as the Jewish priests were to preaching repentance and baptizing believing penitents in Jordan, and other waters.

Twenty-third. None but Aaron, and his sons, could be priests in the Jewish church. It was miraculously decided by the budding of Aaron’s rod. King Uzziah was of the tribe of Judah, and for assuming the priest’s office, to burn incense, he was smitten with leprosy. Jesus Christ was of the tribe of Judah, of which Moses spake nothing concerning the priesthood. Now, if the Christian church is the same as the Jewish, how could Christ be the great High Priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec?

Twenty-fourth. The Grecian church baptize their children in fonts. The Latin church imitate them, with the addition of chrism, (an unction made of oil and balsam,) which the bishop consecrated at Easton, and sells to the parish clergy for the year. The church of England enjoins dipping, unless the priest is informed that the child is unable to bear it, and then sprinkling is to suffice.

The various sects of Protestant pedo-Baptists, sprinkle their children for baptism, without chrism or god-fathers. Some do it to wash away original sin, and others do it because they are sinless. Some will baptize none but the children of church members, others baptize all that are presented. Some ground their right on the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, and others on the household baptisms of the New Testament. Some do it because they are in covenant with God, and others to bring them into covenant with him, etc. The Baptists, unlike all others, baptize those, and only those, who make a credible profession for themselves, that they are believing penitents, and these they baptize by burying their bodies in water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

There is something so harmless in water, that were it not for other causes, there would have been no strife in the world about baptism.

Those who adopt the sentiments of the Baptists, have been complained of, in all countries, as dead weights in the church. The truth is, the Baptists are such Bibleists, that they are always opposed to monarchy in state, and hierarchy in church, while infant baptism, by uniting church and world together, tends to promote both. This makes the strife.

Elder John Leland
First published in 1822

The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland
Pages 480 – 483