But if your meaning be, (as I strongly suspect it is) that we must not expect to be owned by Christ, except we give up infants baptism; then, I say, it is the most uncharitable, as well as unwarrantable, and dangerous censure that ever dropt from the pen of a sober Christian. It is certainly your great evil to lay salvation itself on such a point as the proper subject of baptism, and to make it articulus stantis vel cadentis religionis [the article of the standing or falling of the church], the very basis on which the whole Christian religion, audits professors salvation must stand. I hope the rest of your brethren are more charitable than yourself; but however it be, I do openly profess, that I ever have, and still do own you, and many more of your persuasion, for my brethren in Christ, and am persuaded Christ will own you too, notwithstanding your many errors and mistakes about the lesser and lower matters of religion. Nor need your censure much to affect us, as long as we are satisfied you have neither a faculty nor commission thus solemnly to pronounce it upon us.
But what is the condition upon which this dreadful sentence depends? why, it is our attendance or non-attendance to the primitive purity of the gospel-doctrine.
Sir, I hope we do attend it, and, in some respects, better than some great pretenders to primitive purity, who have cast off not only the initiating sign of God’s covenant, (this did not Abraham) but also that most comfortable and ancient ordinance of singing Psalms: and what other primitive ordinance of God may be cashiered next, who can tell?
We have a witness in our bosom, that the defence of Christ’s pure worship and institution hath cost us something; and as for me, were I convinced by all that you have here said, or any of your friends, that in baptizing the infants of believers, we did really depart from the primitive purity, I would renounce it, and turn Anabaptist the same day.
John Flavel, The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, vol. 6 (London; Edinburgh; Dublin: W. Baynes and Son; Waugh and Innes; M. Keene, 1820), 328. (HT: Chad Vegas)