Perkins’ Defense Of Infant Baptism

Infants of believing parents are likewise to be baptized. The grounds of their baptism are these. First, the commandment of God, “Baptize all nations” (Matt. 28:19), in which words the baptism of infants is prescribed. For the apostles by virtue of this commission baptized whole families (Acts 16:15, 31–33). Again, circumcision of infants was commanded by God (Gen. 17:14), and baptism in the New Testament succeeds in the room of circumcision (Col. 2:11–12); therefore baptism of infants is likewise commanded. The second ground is this. Infants of believing parents are in the covenant of grace. For this is the tenor of the covenant: “I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed” (Gen. 17:7). It may be said that this promise was made in this sort only to Abraham, because he was to be the father of the faithful. Answer. It pertains to all believing parents. God promises “to show mercy to thousands of them that love Him” (Ex. 20). Peter says to the Jews that heard him preach, “The promises belong to you, and to your children” (Acts 2:39). Paul says, “If the parents believe, the children are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14). If holy, then are they in the covenant. Now they are holy because we are in the judgment of Christian charity to esteem them all as regenerate and sanctified, secret judgments (in the mean season) left to God. Now then because infants are in the covenant, they are to be baptized. For this is the reason of St. Peter. To whom the promises belong, to them belongs baptism. But to you and your children belong the promises. Therefore you and your children are to be baptized (Acts 2:38–39).

William Perkins | The Works of William Perkins, ed. Paul M. Smalley, Joel R. Beeke, and Derek W. H. Thomas, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015), 230–31.


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  • Tony Phelps
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    Tony grew up in Rhode Island. He was educated at BA (University of Rhode Island) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He worked in the insurance industry for ten years. He planted a PCA church in Wakefield, RI where he served for eleven years. In 2015–18 he pastored Covenant Reformed Church (URCNA) in Colorado Springs. He is currently pastor of Living Hope (OPC). Tony is married to Donna and together they have three children.

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