S. J. Cassels was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Washington, Georgia. We reprint below an excerpt from his book Lectures on Paedobaptism, published in 1834. Note that these remarks do not criticize those Reformed Baptists who fulfill their covenant duties to their children without understanding that baptism, as a sign of the covenant, should be applied to the children of believers. Indeed, in the past Presbyterian men who did not lead their families spiritually, in this case teach their children God's word, could not present these children for infant baptism. Although we do not recommend a return to this policy, it does show that our Presbyterian forefathers recognized that the application of the sign of the covenant to infants without the fulfillment by the father of his covenant responsibility was not Reformed, but instead resembled the practice of infant baptism found in other denominations. However, if a father has broken a previous baptismal vow, this must be raised and settled prior to the baptism of another child. This is part of how the church faithfully exercises its own vow to encourage the parents in the father's covenant responsibility to bring up his children in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Many raise objections against [paedo-baptism] in the first place, who have no perception at all of the spiritual nature of the connection between parent and child. This is generally the case with the unbelieving world. They see no advantage in this institution -- and well they do not; since they have no just conception of the spiritual duties they owe to their children. Whenever, therefore, an objection against infant baptism proceeds from this source, it carries its refutation on its very face. A blind man can see no need of light; a deaf man no need of sounds.
Many object to this ordinance, also, who maintain no family government at all. Their children are raised up to have their own way. They are ungovernable and wicked. They could not possibly be brought under the influence of a regular Christian training. They are more self-important than their parents. But of what avail are the objections from this source? How could that parent, who has never yet learned to regulate the concerns of his family with discretion, who has never had his children in subjection, how could he promise, before God, to discipline and govern them as the gospel requires? How could he who is himself under the control of his offspring, take a vow to train that offspring in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord?" It is but to be expected, that such parents should not appreciate the blessings of an ordinance, which makes them the religious and accountable heads of their families.
Many, too, raise objections against this ordinance, who maintain no family prayer, and who have no just sense whatever of family piety. Though, when making a personal profession of religion, they solemnly promised to observe all the duties of the gospel in the church, the family, and the closet; yet they are habitually without a family altar! The Scriptures are not read, no social prayer is made, nor are the songs of Zion sung around the domestic fireside. Servants are never instructed, nor are children catechized. The Sabbath is often violated and the sanctuary neglected! And such persons raise objections to infant baptism. No wonder, since the baptism of their children would be not only a nullity, but perjury itself! How profane must it be regarded by God, for a parent to promise, in the reception of baptism for his child, to pray with that child, when he retires the same evening to rest, without bowing around the family altar! Such objections can have no weight whatever. Baptism, probably, would be justly enough refused to such parents.
There are others, again, who raise objections against this ordinance, who have treacherously and profanely abused it. They have had many of their children baptized: but they have raised them as if they were heathen -- they have not instructed them with care -- they have not governed them with discretion -- they have permitted them to violate the Sabbath, to neglect the house of God, and the reading of the Scriptures. And because their children have grown up in impiety, though baptized when young, they have begun seriously to doubt the advantage, and consequently the divine obligation of infant baptism! Such persons had better wonder why God has not smitten them with his Frown. They had much better doubt their own personal religion. And surely, it is but a poor remedy, in such a case, to add to the sin of profaning an ordinance of God, that of its denial! The objections of this class of persons too, can have no weight whatever.
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