Infant Baptism Part 1
By Dr. Jonathan Edwards
When I speak of members of the visible church of Christ, in complete standing, I would be understood of those who are received as the proper immediate subjects of all the external privileges Christ has appointed for the ordinary members of his church. I say ordinary members, in distinction from any peculiar privileges and honors of church-officers and rulers. All allow, there are some that are in some respect in the church of God, who are not members in complete standing, in the sense that has been explained. All that acknowledge infant baptism, allow infants, who are the proper subjects of baptism, and are baptized, to be in some sort members of the Christian church, yet none suppose them to be members in such standing as to be the proper immediate subjects of all ecclesiastical ordinances and privileges: but that some further qualifications are requisite in order to this, to be obtained, either in a course of nature, or by education, or by divine grace. And some who are baptized in infancy, even after they come to be adult, may yet remain for a season short of such a standing as has been spoken of; being destitute of sufficient knowledge, and perhaps some other qualifications, through the neglect of parents, or their own negligence, or otherwise, or because they carelessly neglected to qualify themselves for ecclesiastical privileges by making a public profession of the Christian faith, or owning the Christian covenant, or forbear to offer themselves as candidates for these privileges; and yet not be cast out of the church, or cease to be in any respect its members: this, I suppose, will also be generally allowed… It was also requisite, that such a distinction should be made in the question, to avoid lengthening out this discourse exceedingly, with needless questions and debates concerning the state of baptized infants; that is needless as to my present purpose. Though I have no doubts about the doctrine of infant baptism, yet God’s manner of dealing with such infants as are regularly dedicated to him in baptism, is a matter liable to great disputes and many controversies, and would require a large dissertation by itself to clear it up, which, as it would extend this discourse beyond all bounds, so it appears not necessary in order to a clear determination of the present question.
…infant baptism requires nothing visible in its subject, but a relative fitness or federal holiness, the formalis ratio of infant membership, accruing from God’s charter of grace to his church, taking in the infant seed with the believing parent.