Infant Baptism: William Ames

As I was researching for my work on infant baptism, I came across this gem by William Ames (1576-1633).

12. The infants of believers are not to be forbidden this sacrament. First, because, if they are partakers of any grace, it is by virtue of the covenant of grace and so both the covenant and the first seal of the covenant belong to them. Second, the covenant in which the faithful are now included is clearly the same as the covenant made with Abraham, Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:7-9 — and this expressly applied to infants. Third, the covenant as now administered to believers brings greater and fuller consolation than it once could, before the coming of Christ. But if it pertained only to them and not to their infants, the grace of God and their consolation would be narrower and more contracted after Christ’s appearing than before. Fourth, baptism supplants circumcision, Col. 2:11, 12; it belongs as much to the children of believers as circumcision once did. Fifth, in the very beginning of regeneration, whereof baptism is a seal, man is merely passive. Therefore, no outward action is required of a when he is baptized or circumcised (unlike other sacraments); but only a passive receiving. Infants are, therefore, as capable of participating in this sacrament, so far as its chief benefit is concerned, as adults.

13. Faith and repentance no more constitute the covenant of God now than in the time of Abraham, who was the father of the faithful. Therefore, the lack of these ought not to prevent infants from being baptized any more than it prevented them from being circumcised then.

These two theses were taken from his work The Marrow of Theology, published originally in Latin in 1629. Republished by Baker Books, in English, in 1997. Excerpt from page 211 of the latter edition.

The end of thesis 12 demonstrates the clear and logical connection between Calvinistic soteriology and infant baptism, and shows how, to one degree or another, credo-baptism could be tied to an Arminian view of salvation.

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